Organisers of the Rio Olympics said on Thursday they may decide to use more cities to host football action amid concerns that pitches slated to host matches may get burnt out.
Rio, welcoming South America’s first ever Olympiad in 2016, is scheduled to share out the games with fellow World Cup venues Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Salvador.
But Carlos Nuzman, who chairs the Brazilian Olympic Committee, told reporters FIFA has voiced concern at whether the four pitches will stand up to multiple use in early rounds.
“Can we have one more city? Yes,” Nuzman said. “This is under discussion with FIFA and the Brazil soccer federation.”
Adding venues would not just protect pitches from cutting up but would have the added benefit of bringing potential use to one or more of Brazil’s potential “white elephant” World Cup venues such as Manaus in Amazonia and Cuiaba, both of whom boast multimillion-dollar swanky new stadiums but have no major local side to fill them.
Nuzman said adding venues – rather as London did for the 2012 event when some matches were played as far away as Newcastle and Glasgow, some 400 kilometres away – would respond to FIFA concerns of pitch maintenance.
With 16 men’s teams and 12 for the women, the current four-city structure could mean some stadiums hosting more than one match a day during the August 3 to 19 football event.
Rio’s legendary Maracana, which hosted Germany’s World Cup final win over Argentina in July, is scheduled to host semi-final and final matches.
Brazil used 12 venues at the World Cup, giving the Maracana a massive $400 million overhaul and spending almost $3 billion in all to spread the tournament across the country despite fears that several host cities would struggle to fill their new grounds thereafter.
As a partial solution, the Brazilian league brought domestic matches to the likes of Manaus’ Amazonia Arena last season.
Nuzman hinted a decision would be made by February, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to visit to monitor progress on Games’ preparations.