By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the opening day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games approaches, the centerpiece of the spectacle has been handed over to the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee today, March 1st. The Olympic Games, which will run from August 5th to 21st, will see the opening and closing ceremonies at the Maracanã Stadium, as well as of course, football (soccer).
According to reports, the Rio 2016 Committee will share a joint management with the current concessionaire, Maracanã S.A., due to the complexity of the venue. One of the most challenging tasks still ahead is considered to be the installation of additional lighting for the opening and closing ceremonies.
Mario Andrada, director of communications for Rio 2016 said, “Since 2014, Rio 2016 has been negotiating to take control of the Maracanã as soon as possible, with a focus on the opening and closing ceremonies, which are among the biggest spectacles on the planet.” Adding, “our team needs time to get familiar with the stadium and this will also give us more opportunity to stage rehearsals.”
Rio 2016 say they will be assuming full control of the Maracanã in May. In March and April, the management and costs of the venue will be shared by Rio 2016 and the promotors of the Coldplay concert that will be staged there on April 10th.
For the Olympic football, the stadium is ready after refurbishments ahead of the 2014 World Cup. The Maracanã will host the women’s and men’s football finals on August 19th and 20th. Other tournament matches will be held at: Amazônia Arena (Manaus), Corinthians Arena (São Paulo), Fonte Nova Arena (Salvador), Mané Garrincha Stadium (Brasília) and Mineirão (Belo Horizonte).
Still, the Maracanã will need some work to prepare the stage for the opening and closing ceremonies, with many visual effects focused around what will be broadcast on television. As the ceiling does not support all the necessary additional structure, alternatives are being evaluated. The stage for the opening ceremony is not planned to be installed until mid-July, but the grounds will be available for test events.
The Maracanã stadium turned 65 years-old last year, as it was officially opened on June 16, 1950 after two years of construction. It was built for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, when it registered a record attendance at the final between Uruguay and Brazil with 199,854 spectators; making it the world’s largest stadium by capacity at that time.
The Maracanã was renovated several times since then. Most noticeably in 2010-13 for the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup, where capacity was reduced to 78,838 spectators, however still making it the largest stadium in Brazil and the second in South America after Estadio Monumental in Peru.
* This article has been corrected from the original version, to clarify athletics will be held at the Olympic Stadium and Sambódromo in the Maracanã Zone, not the actual Maracanã Stadium itself.