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Rio Stadium Fires 75 Percent of Workers Ahead of Olympics

  • Associated Press

FILE - Maracanã Stadium is shown in this aerial view, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 9, 2015.

FILE - Maracanã Stadium is shown in this aerial view, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 9, 2015.

Administrators of Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracanã stadium have fired 75 percent of the arena's staff eight months before the 2016 Olympics.

The consortium formed by construction company Odebrecht and entertainment group AEG said in a statement late Monday that 40 people were laid off. The stadium, which hosted the 2014 World Cup final, is to be used for up to nine months by Games organizers, who are bringing in their own workers for that period.

Maracanã administrators said the layoffs aim to cut costs while the facility is under Olympic control. Arena tours and maintenance will be done by contractors.

Administrators also said discussions with the Rio state government on a new operating contract are ongoing.

Brazilian media have reported that stadium operations could be returned to the state government in 2017.

The Maracanã, Brazil's flagship stadium with nearly 79,000 seats, is scheduled to host Olympic soccer matches as well as opening and closing ceremonies.

Another Rio Olympic venue has also been the subject of unflattering headlines this week.

Electricity was cut off at the stadium where track and field events are to be held, as Rio's city government and soccer club Botafogo blamed each other for unpaid utility bills.

Brazilian website Globo Esporte said the bills totaled 1 million reals ($250,000) and represented two months of missed payments. It reported that electricity has been out at the arena since last week, and water was cut more than a month ago.

A deep recession in Brazil has forced cutbacks to Olympic preparations as organizers try to slash about $500 million in expenditures to keep the operating budget at $1.9 billion.