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Italy to Train at Rio Soccer Stadium Closed for Dangerous Roof

The Olympic stadium shuttered indefinitely by Rio de Janeiro’s mayor because of concern its roof is unsafe will be used as a training venue for soccer’s Confederations Cup next month.

The Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange, also known as Engenhao, was closed by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes in March because signs of wear in its roof structure suggested it risked collapse in high winds. The arena was built in 2007.

Italy, Tahiti and one of the finalists of the World Cup warmup event are slated to train at the arena, according to soccer’s world governing body, FIFA. The tournament features World Cup 2014 host Brazil and includes reigning European and world champion Spain among eight participants from soccer’s six regional confederations.

The teams will be safe, said a spokesman for the mayor’s office who asked not to be identified because of internal policy.

“The stadium is opening only for training,” the official said. “There’ll be no access to the public for viewing and no actual matches will be played there.”

The closing of the arena is one of a series of infrastructure problems facing organizers of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, which is slated to stage track and field events at Engenhao. FIFA expressed concern this week that the stadium in Sao Paulo scheduled to host the opening match of the World Cup will not be finished before December’s deadline.

Missed Deadline

FIFA had set a deadline of last December for the six stadiums where the Confederations Cup will be played, and several of them missed the date, including Rio’s Maracana, which will host the final games of this year’s event and the World Cup. Stadiums in Recife and Brasilia are scheduled to hold their first test events this month, weeks before the June 15 opening of the tourney.

Paes told reporters two days ago he’s seeking to find out who is responsible for problems with the roof, and vowed to punish the culprits. The stadium, built for the Pan American games, was open only six years before the mayor ordered it closed.

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