The organising committee for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games has received a welcome positive progress report from the IAAF, athletics' governing body, despite the Joao Havelange Stadium, which is slated to stage track and field events at the games, having been closed indefinitely because of structural problems with the roof.
Essar Gabriel, general secretary of the IAAF, met with the organising committee and government partners in Rio, and said he was "pleased" with how preparations were coming along for athletes.
He said: “It was a great pleasure to be in Rio. With regards to the preparations, I’m impressed because we see in the new [Rio 2016] headquarters that there are more than 400 people now at work. We have gone through the different functions, from transport and accommodation to competition. It’s pretty much on track from what I am seeing.”
The Joao Havelange Stadium, built only six years ago, was closed last month for roof repairs. It had also been the main venue for soccer in the city while the famous Maracana Stadium is being renovated for next year’s Fifa World Cup. The Maracana, which is due to re-open at the end of this month, four months behind schedule, is slated to host the 2016 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.
Gabriel said: “We had heard that the [Olympic] stadium had been closed, but we are confident from what we heard that things will be back on track and are handled well – that is very important.
“Also, we understood that as part of a huge regeneration exercise around the Maracana Stadium, part of the requirements given to private investors was that there must be a new stadium of athletics built. I am sure we will see a beautiful project of a new stadium of athletics and then the athletics federation in Brazil can work hand in hand with the public authorities to look to ensure that this is delivered at the highest standards and used as a legacy for the local people and also as a centre of excellence of athletics in this country.”
Carlos Nuzman, president of Rio 2016, said: “We are working very closely with the international federations to organise excellent sporting events and give athletes the perfect conditions to perform at their best. The Rio 2016 Olympic Stadium will be a standalone venue for track and field, with no groundshare needed with neither the opening and closing ceremonies nor the football finals.
“We are also ensuring athletics benefits from a positive legacy and we are happy to see that the IAAF recognises our efforts.”