By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Both Manaus and São Paulo have been confirmed as two of six cities to host football (soccer) games for the 2016 Olympic Games held mainly in Rio de Janeiro. Manaus was cleared by the FIFA after the football organization had voiced concerns about the suitability of the stadium 3000km away from Rio.
Football governing organization FIFA confirmed this Monday, March 16th that the Amazônia arena in Manaus will be included as host for the Olympic Games held in August 2016. Before, FIFA secretary-general Jerôme Valcke had voiced concerns about the distance of Manaus to Rio, which requires a five-hours flight for athletes.
Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman, who last month said the first ever Olympics to be staged in South America must be the “Games of Brazil” and not just Rio, was happy with the selection.
“The inclusion of Manaus in the Rio 2016 Olympic schedule will enrich the tournament with a visit of the football players to one of the most iconic locations in the world,” Nuzman stated after the FIFA Organizing Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland.
Marco Polo Del Nero, chairman of the FIFA Organizing Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments, added: “The Olympic football tournaments will be a fantastic opportunity to revive the great atmosphere seen during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, not only in Rio de Janeiro but also in the other five cities.”
“They did an excellent job in 2014, and now they can use the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure already in place to unite the country for a major event once more. I am confident that the participating teams will have an unforgettable Olympic experience.”
São Paulo’s Corinthians arena (also known as Itaquerão) will also host Olympic football, even though the city had voiced concerns last week about the costs involved in holding matches.
The 58-match men’s and women’s football tournament will be staged at seven stadiums in six cities and is the only competition hosted outside of Rio de Janeiro. The venues include the Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte, the Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasília, the Amazônia Arena in Manaus, the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador, the Corinthians Arena in São Paulo and both the Maracanã and the Engenhão (dubbed Olympic stadium for 2016) in Rio de Janeiro.