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SBD Global/April 2, 2013/Facilities

Rio's João Havelange Stadium Closure Impacts 2016 Summer Games Prep

Brazil's preparations for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics "suffered another setback over the weekend when the Rio de Janeiro derby between Botafogo and Vasco da Gama was called off because the stadium was declared unsafe," according to Tim Vickery of the BBC. João Havelange stadium, known locally as the Engenhao (after the neighborhood), "has been in action for less than six years." Already it is in such poor condition that "there is a risk of the roof blowing off and the stadium has been closed indefinitely." In its short life the stadium "has not exactly proved popular with Rio football fans, and it could weel be the least impressive Olympic athletics venue for some time." There is a "more immediate problem" -- "where will the Rio clubs play their local derbies?" The city's iconic Maracana stadium is still closed for 2014 World Cup work. For the last few years the global media "has been full of reports on the rise of Brazil, the awakened tropical giant taking huge strides forward." More recently "came the backlash and questions are beginning to be asked." Why "isn't Brazil moving as fast as it could? What is holding it back?" The bizarre tale of a collapsing new stadium "seems to symbolise some of the possible explanations" -- shoddy infrastructure, inept government, a lack of faith (frequently justified) in collective solutions. The ever astute Andre Kfouri wrote in Saturday's issue of the sports daily 'Lance!' that "the closure of the Engenhao is the best possible piece of propaganda for the events we are going to receive in the next few years. There is no jingle or slogan. It is Brazil in its pure state" (BBC, 4/1).
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