Rio's Olympic stadium goes dark over failure to pay electricity bills

A Brazilian sports website claims the venue also had its water supply shut off a month ago

BY James Dempsey 14:07 Wednesday 6 January 2016, 14:07 6 Jan 2016

The Estádio Nilton Santos was constructed in 2007 and refurbished for the 2016 games [Wiki Commons]

The Estádio Nilton Santos in Northern Rio de Janeiro, which is set to play host to the track & field and football events at the summer Olympic Games this August, has had its power turned off by a Brazilian electric company for failing to pay its bills, with the city’s beleaguered city hall and local football club Botafogo pointing the finger at each other in an effort to avoid footing the bill.

City Hall claims that Botafogo, which has operated the venue since its construction for the 2007 Pan American Games, has been responsible for paying its utility bills since May 2015. But the Associated Press reports that Botafogo officials, who renamed the stadium after its original namesake João Havelange (the seventh president of FIFA) was embroiled in the ongoing controversy concerning the football governing body, said it was due money from the city to pay electricity and water bills.

“We need to find out who is responsible for the debt,” a Botafogo spokesperson said.

According to the Brazilian website Globo Esporte, a sports news offshoot of the O Globo newspaper, the unpaid bills amount to one million Reals (€230,000), and that in addition to being without power, the stadium also had its water supply cut off more than a month ago.

Brazil, which was one of the strongest performing economies when it was awarded the Olympic Games, the first South American city to do so, is in the grips of an extreme recession which has seen its Olympics budget slashed by €465m in an effort to reduce the burden of the games on taxpayers.

In 2013, Santos Stadium was closed for 18 months in order to repair a sagging roof that was close to collapse. The ground was reopened in 2015 and it is expected that the running track will be added early in 2016 in preparation for the August 5th games.

Although the venue will play host to track & field and group-stage soccer, Maracanã football stadium will be the setting for both the opening and closing ceremonies.

Rio officials, in response to the ongoing controversy over the city’s preparations for the games, said in December that 95% of the work is complete, with only six venues left to be finished and tested ahead of the start date.

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