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Rio stadium roof problems serious, say engineers

Badly conserved structures of the roof of the Joao Havelange stadium are pictured in Rio de Janeiro March 27, 2013. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
Badly conserved structures of the roof of the Joao Havelange stadium are pictured in Rio de Janeiro March 27, 2013. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The damage which has forced the abrupt closure of Rio de Janeiro's Joao Havelange stadium is serious and it will take up to two months just to find a solution, engineers said on Wednesday.

The six-year-old arena, scheduled to host the athletics events at the 2016 Olympic games, was shut on Tuesday because of structural damage to the roof in a major embarrassment for Brazilian sporting authorities.

"We've received a report about the stadium and it did not come with any solutions attached," said Armando Queiroga, president of the city government's public works department RioUrbe.

"It's a serious problem and we can't forecast when it will open again. We need from 30 to 60 days to find the solution and after that we will have some perspective."

Authorities said the roof could present a risk for spectators if the wind reached over 63 kilometers per hour.

The stadium is currently the city's main soccer venue as the Maracana is rebuilt for the Confederations Cup this year and the 2014 World Cup.

Although the stadium will host the athletics events in 2016, the opening and closing ceremonies will take place at the Maracana in a break with Olympic tradition.

The Joao Havelange stadium was built for the 2007 Panamerican Games and opened just one month before the event after being plagued by delays.

Afterwards, it was leased to local soccer club Botafogo although it is frequently used by other teams.

The Maracana is due to re-open at the end of April, four months behind the original schedule. Brazil's preparations for the 2014 World Cup have been plagued by delays.

The closure of the Joao Havelange stadium, alternatively known as the Engenhao, forced the Carioca championship match between Fluminense and Macae on Wednesday to be switched to Sao Januario at one day's notice.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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