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Rio 2016: Olympic Stadium


The stadium was built by the City of Rio to host the Pan-American Games in 2007, with the option to increase the capacity from 45,000 to 60,000 – through temporary seating – incorporated into the design.

As had been set out in Rio’s candidature to stage the 2016 Summer Games, work to renovate and increase the capacity of the stadium to 60,000 seats was undertaken ahead of the Games. The athletics track, the electrical system, the toilets, the lifts and the fire protection equipment, among other things, were revamped as part of this renovation. In addition, regeneration projects in the neighbouring area of Engheno de Dentro were initiated. The stadium forecourt was refurbished, as were the surrounding main roads and the railway station that serviced the stadium. Structural defects in the roof caused the stadium to close for repair work in March 2013 for nearly two years.

OCOG Rio 2016 / FERRO, Alex


The multipurpose stadium is oval shaped. Supported by four white steel arches 70 meters above the ground, the slightly undulated structure of the metallic roof makes it look as though it is floating in mid-air above the stands. The metal arches, with a diameter of two metres, are supported by two pillars located outside the stadium.

The playful, rhythmic repetition in the irregular arches of the João Havelange Olympic Stadium, which are its unmistakable hallmark, are clear exponents of the plastic association of creative will and the mathematical rigour of structural calculation. Carlos Porto, Geraldo Lopes, Gilson Santos and José Raymundo Senior Principal Architects

Concrete structures support the stands and the spectator transit areas. A giant LED screen, 30 metres wide and nine metres high, was installed in the stadium.

IOC / EVANS, Jason


The synthetic athletics track was a royal blue colour. It was designed using nanotechnology-based techniques that took into consideration the humidity and heat conditions in the city.


The Nilton Santos Stadium is a primary venue for athletics competitions in Brazil. It is leased to the football club Botafogo, which oversees its administration. The stadium also hosts concerts by local and international artists.

IOC / EVANS, Jason


- Dossier de candidature de Rio de Janeiro à l'accueil des Jeux olympiques et Paralympiques de 2016, Rio 2016 Bid Committee, vol. 2, p. 96.
- “João Havelange Olympic Stadium”, website of Constructalia.
- “João Havelange Olympic Stadium”, website of Design Building Network.
- Michel Castellan, “Passion and transformation”, Olympic Review, no. 99, April-June 2016, p. 51.
- “Nilton Santos Stadium”, website of Botafago FR.
- “Olympic Stadium unveiled after adaptations for the Rio 2016 Games”, website of the Federal Government, 13 May 2016.
- “Prefeitura do Rio reira oficialmente nome de João Havelange do Engenhão”, Folha de S.Paulo, sport section, 13 February 2017.
- “Rio 2016 transport: Olympic Stadium train station renovated ahead of Games”, press release, website of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, 14 July 2016.
- “Rio de Janeiro sets stage for celebration of athletic spirit”, Odebrecht Informa Online, no. 131, July-August 2007.

Name: Also called the João Havelange Stadium before and after the Games, it was renamed the Nilton Santos Stadium in 2017 after the famous Brazilian footballer. It is also nicknamed Engenhão.
Location: R. José dos Reis 425, Engenho de Dentro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Status: Existing stadium, renovated for the Games. In use today.
Designers: Carlos Porto, Geraldo Lopes, Gilson Santos and José Raymundo Gomes (architects)
Cost: Redevelopment work for the Games: 52 million Brazilian reals
Capacity: 60,000 spectators
Dimensions: 284m long and 232m wide
Additional information: For the new metal roof structure, 1,300 tonnes of steel were added to the existing 4,000 tonnes. The roof’s two long arches each measure 284 metres, and the two shorter ones 232 metres.
Construction: September 2003 to June 2007
Official opening: 30 June 2007
Events during the Games: Athletics (excluding the marathons, the 20km race walks and the 50km race walk) and group matches in the football tournaments.

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