Rio Olympic stadium repairs to take 18 months

Rio de Janeiro, June 8 (IANS) Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympic athletics stadium needs at least 18 months of reconstruction work before it can safely reopen to the public, government officials said.

The Engenhao stadium was shut in March after an engineer's appraisal showed the venue's roof could collapse due to structural problems, reports Xinhua.

Marcos Vidigal, the Engenhao building consortium's chief engineer, said Friday that the roof did not meet "minimum safety standards" in its current state.

"The roof's structure is going to have to be rebuilt from scratch and in a completely different way," Vidigal said during a press conference convened by Rio's state government.

Officials would not be drawn on the likely cost of the redevelopment work.

The Engenhao stadium, built for the 2007 Pan-American Games, is set to have its capacity increased from 47,000 to 60,000 to host track and field events at the Rio Olympics.

The iconic Maracana stadium, which was reopened last Sunday, will host the Games' opening and closing ceremonies as well as the Olympic and Paralympic football tournaments.

The closure is among a series of setbacks to affect Brazil's preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Each of the country's six Confederations Cup venues overshot their December 2012 deadline while football's governing body FIFA has expressed concern at the slow pace of work at Sao Paulo's World Cup stadium.

The Confederations Cup, which will be held from June 15-30, is considered an organizational warm-up for the World Cup.

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