You are here: Home / News / Olympic Stadium unveiled after adaptations for the Rio 2016 Games


May 13, 2016 05:25 PM

Inside the works

Olympic Stadium unveiled after adaptations for the Rio 2016 Games

Works totalling R$ 52 million increased seating capacity, replaced tracks and adapted infrastructure for the arena, which will host athletics competitions and eight football matches

The João Havelange Olympic Stadium (Engenhão), stage of the athletics competitions and some of the football matches for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, was unveiled this Thursday (13 May). A total R$52 million were invested by the city of Rio to renovate and make adjustments to the power infrastructure of the venue.

Olympic Stadium, the venue that will be the stage to athletes such as idol Usain Bolt and Brazilian hopeful Fabiana Murer. Picture: Alex Ferro/Rio2016

Built for the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Engenhão underwent changes to host the Rio 2016 Olympics. Temporary stands installed in the northern and southern sectors increased seating capacity from 45,000 to 60,000, while in the competition area the main track and the warm-up track have been replaced.

The electrical network has also been adapted to meet the requirements of new broadcasting technologies and of the Games themselves. Improvements have been made to the power, sound and lighting distribution systems and to the infrastructure for installation of timing, power and transmission cables. Other improvements include an increase in the number of security cameras, the installation of drinking fountains and the construction of accessible bathrooms, in addition to painting and cleaning, adaptations for wheelchair-bound visitors and athletes, and recovery of walls and floors.

"Bathrooms, elevators, air conditioning, fire protection and sound equipment have all been revamped. The track, which was quite old (it was used in the 2007 Pan American Games) has been completely replaced, as has the warm-up track. Most of the money was spent on track operation and the power system. The Olympics requires us to be redundant on power, with two networks in addition to generators, and this ends up being an important legacy for the Engenhão," said mayor Eduardo Paes.

The city of Rio has also built the metal structure that will house the electronic scoreboard, which will be 30 m long and 9 m high. The screen, which will use LED technology, will be the largest ever installed in a stadium. Both athletes and audiences will be able to closely follow scores and watch replays of the best moments of the competitions. The technology will be assembled by the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee.
Starting this Saturday (14 May), the Engenhão will host the Iberian-American Athletics Championship, which will also work as a test event of the venue. Lasting until Monday (16 May), the Championship will bring together 300 athletes from 25 countries. In the sequence, the stadium will host the 2016 Caixa Loterias Athletics Open Championship between 18 and 21 May.

In his remarks during the stadium delivery event on Thursday, Mayor Paes stressed that the Olympic Games will not be affected by the changes in the country's administration. "This subject is above political disputes, above administrations. President Dilma was dealing with the Olympics very appropriately, and President Michel Temer will continue to do the same. It is important to understand that this is an agenda of the Brazilian nation, of the country; it is not an agenda of any given party. "



The roofing of the Engenhão has also undergone works in recent years. The stadium was shut down and remained closed for almost two years for renovation of the structure, which was at risk of collapse. "In the first half of 2013, German company SBP presented a report stating that the roof structure was condemned, more specifically the arches and the roof. For safety reasons, the municipal government contacted Botafogo (the team for which the Engenhão is the home stadium) and the Rio de Janeiro Football Federation and told them that the stadium would be shut down. After that, the consortium that completed the construction of the stadium hired experts to develop the roofing enhancement project, and the city appointed a committee of experts to monitor the implementation of that project as well as the renovation works", recalled Alexandre Pinto, Secretary of Works of the city of Rio.

The works were completed in late 2015, but the stadium hosted matches of the Rio and Brazilian championships throughout the year before that. "We changed the roof support system from arches to trellises, and put more than 1,300 tons of steel in this new structure. The work was fully completed at the end of 2015, but before that it was already completely safe to have people in the stadium. We had a few matches last year. The city did not invest a single real in it. There is a dispute going on between the consortium that completed the works and the first consortium that was carrying out the works, and the courts will decide which one will bear the costs," added the secretary.

Friends Cely and Rosimar loved the new leisure area of the Engenho de Dentro neighbourhood. Picture: Carol Delmazo/


A highlight in the surroundings of the stadium is the Praça do Trem (Train Square), which had its warehouses renovated and received new lighting, landscaping, repairs in the drainage network and pavement. The Square, measuring about 35,000 m2 in area, has received a number of urbanization improvements, including new sidewalks and bicycle paths. The project included an accessible esplanade that both facilitates circulation in the area and will assist in the operation logistics for the Games. After the event, the square will be left as a legacy as urban equipment. During the Games, it will be the main access route to the Engenhão.

About 90 trees have been planted, all without disrupting the visibility of the warehouses. The lighting system uses LED lamps and 15km of pipelines to ensure energy efficiency and allow for use of the area at night. Soon after the Games, the Square will house the Olympic Knowledge Ship, which will be installed in a two-story building with 1,000-m2 halls.

"These warehouses were property of the Federal Railway Network that had been abandoned for many years. (Carlos) Nuzman (President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee) managed to transfer ownership to the Committee a few years ago, and the idea was to have the COB headquarters there. When we won the bid for the Olympics, I asked him to transfer it to the city, and we built this large square for an area of the city where there is no free space at all. The area is now ready in Games mode, and after the Games it will be fitted with leisure facilities. The Olympic Knowledge Ship will be a kind of super digital museum," said Eduardo Paes.

Hairdresser Cely dos Santos and nurse technician Rosimar Simões loved the square. Rosimar lives close by and already has plans to use the area. "I want to exercise, dance. This area here was very dead, then they built the Engenhão and not much has changed. Now it will be much better for us," she said.

Picture: Andre Motta/


Those coming to the Engenhão by way of Praça do Trem (Train Square) will get a taste of the art of graffiti artists Airá OCrespo, Cazé, Duim, Gil Faria, Josué Pakato, Rena and Sark, put together by the Eixo Rio Institute. The drawings on the 400-m2 panel are inspired by the laid-back behaviour of locals and tourist attractions such as the Lapa Arches, Maracanã, Corcovado Mountain, the Apotheosis Square (the famous "Sambadrome") and the Sugar Loaf.

In addition to the revamped square, the project that revitalized the Engenhão surroundings (which started in 2014) also included the redevelopment of the streets surrounding the stadium. In the first phase, delivered in January 2015, the targets were the streets that make up the quadrilateral surrounding the venue. Those were provided with accessibility improvements, new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, a 2-km long bike lane and infrastructure for new lighting, including the conversion of overhead lines to underground ones.

The second phase of the project included the redevelopment of 32 roads, leading to better accessibility in the neighbourhood with new paving for sidewalks, resurfacing of lanes and realignment of curbs. Other works included maintenance, cleaning and reinforcement of surface water collection for rainwater drainage networks, eliminating flood-prone areas in the neighbourhood. Investments in these operations totalled R$115.6 million., with information from the Municipal Government of Rio de Janeiro