By Duncan Mackay

Joao Havelange StadiumMarch 27 - Rio de Janeiro officials have closed the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange, which is due to host athletics during the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, because of safety fears over its roof. 

It will be "closed indefinitely" until the matter is resolved, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said.

"Today, they informed me that the roof has structural problems," he said.

"I asked if this represented a risk for spectators and they told me it did, depending on the wind speed and temperature.

"On that basis, I immediately decided to close the stadium until we had more details."

The Stadium was not due to be used for the Confederations Cup in June or the 2014 World Cup.

But, besides athletics, it is being lined-up to host rugby sevens when the sport makes its return to the Olympic programme after a 92-year absence at Rio 2016 after the original choice, the Sao Januario Stadium, home of football club Vasco da Gama, was ruled unavailable.

Known locally as "Engenhao" due to its location in the Engenho de Dentro neighborhood, the $192 million (£127 million/€150 million) Stadium opened in 2007 and hosted athletics during the Pan American Games that year.

Pan American Games 2007The Stadium, with its eye-catching blue track, was the centre for the athletics during the 2007 Rio Pan American Games

"It's simply not acceptable that a stadium which was inaugurated such a short time ago now has to face this sort of situation," said Paes.

"The Stadium will stay closed for an undetermined period.

"If they give me a solution that will last a month, then it will stay closed for a month, if it takes a year, it will stay closed for a year.

"I will wait until a definitive solution if presented.

"We can't play with something like this."

After the Pan American Games Botafogo became the Stadium's anchor tennants, although several other Rio clubs also use it.

The first event to be affected was today's Carioca Championship match between Brazilian champions Fluminense and Macae.

The Stadium currently has the capacity to hold 46,000 people, with authorities planning to increase that number to 60,000 for the Olympics.

Rio 2016 tried to reassure people that the problem would not affect the Olympics and Paralympics.

"The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee has full confidence that the city of Rio de Janeiro will take the necessary measures to guarantee that the Olympic Stadium is ready for the Games more than three years from now, as well as for the test events before them," they said in a statement.

The Stadium was already at the centre of controversy because it is named after João Havelange, the former FIFA President, who was revealed in documents published last year as the recipient of millions of dollars in the ISL bribery scandal.

He paid a Swiss court about $550,000 (£364,000/€430,000) to end a criminal investigation into alleged embezzlement but was forced to resign as a member of the International Olympic Committee having served it since 1963.

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December 2012: Exclusive - João Havelange Stadium set to host rugby sevens at Rio 2016
August 2012: Disgraced Havelange's name to remain on Rio 2016 stadium as call for change gathers pace