By David Gold

Maracana 1April 16 - The doors of the revamped Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, which will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, as well as the final of the 2014 football World Cup, have been opened to the public.

Although renovation work at the Stadium (pictured top) is less than 50 per cent completed, the public can now apply to take part in tours to see first-hand the improvements at the famous ground.

Those interested can register online for a tour, for groups of 50 people maximum, which will take place each hour from 8am to 1pm local time.

Visits have been scheduled for the first Saturday of each month beginning in May.

The historic Stadium will boast a lower grandstand and the fitting of the new roof is continuing after faults were found in its previous construction.

Work at the Stadium has been blighted by delays, with strikes affecting the reconstruction efforts.

However, the ground is expected to be ready by February 2013, in time for next year's Confederations Cup – the "dry run" ahead of the following year's World Cup.

The ground will also be used for the football tournament at the Rio 2016 Games.

Maracana 2
The total cost of the work is $470 million (£297 million/€361 million) and the ground will hold 85,000 spectators after it is completed.

The Maracanã was originally built for the 1950 World Cup (pictured above) – the last time the competition came to Brazil – and was the venue for the host country's 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the final of that tournament – watched by a world record 200,000 fans.

That defeat passed into folklore as the "Maracanãzo", or the Maracanã disaster, and Brazil is hoping to finally put memories of that match to rest with victory in the same Stadium at the 2014 World Cup.

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