New venue for rugby sevens at Rio 2016 proposed by city Mayor
Thursday, 21 February 2013
February 21 - Plans to host the rugby sevens at the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange when the sport makes its debut on the Olympic programme at Rio 2016 could be hijacked by the city's Mayor who has proposed renovating a different venue so it can stage them.
Eduardo Paes has promised to fund a major rebuilding programme at Estádio Moça Bonita if it chosen to stage rugby.
"If you approve Estádio Moça Bonita, I will start work tomorrow," said Paes, who has already discussed his plan with Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman, who is reportedly less enthusiastic about the idea.
The original proposal had been to stage rugby in the Estádio São Januário, home of football club Vasco da Gama.
But they failed to provide the necessary guarantees required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Rugby Board (IRB) by the end of last October.
Negotiations between Rio 2016 and the IRB have been ongoing since about the João Havelange Stadium but now Paes wants his proposal to be looked at serioulsy.
Moça Bonita - which in English means Beautiful Girl - is located in Bangu, the same area as São Januário.
"The most important, and historically symbolic stadium in the area, is San Gennaro, but that is already ruled out," said Paes.
"The second most important is Moça Bonita."
The Stadium was built in 1947 and is owned by Bangu Atlético Clube, a club founded by English factory workers and which was the first in Brazil to feature black players.
The Stadium has fallen into disrepair in recent years and if Paes' proposal is accepted it would undergo a massive $34 million (£22 million/€26 million) tranformation, expanding the current capacity of 5,000 to 15,000.
The João Havelange Stadium, however, remains the favourite to be eventually chosen.
"The IRB will continue to work alongside Rio 2016 and the IOC to ensure the delivery of outstanding and successful rugby sevens events for teams, fans and the Olympic and rugby families," said a spokesman for the IRB.
December 2012: Exclusive - João Havelange Stadium set to host rugby sevens at Rio 2016
November 2012: Rugby sevens venue for Rio 2016 Olympics in doubt