By TALES AZZONI
AP Sports Writer
SAO PAULO (AP) _ Olympic organizers have confirmed Sao Paulo as one of the host cities of the football tournament at the 2016 Rio Games.
The announcement came after a meeting between the local organizing committee and the city government Thursday.
South America’s biggest city was pre-selected as one of the six hosts, but local officials were yet to guarantee the city’s participation because of the high costs involved. They said they wanted to fully analyze the list of requirements for the tournament before making a decision.
In addition to Rio, the other Brazilian cities hosting the football tournament will be Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador and Manaus. All of which hosted World Cup matches last year.
The games in Sao Paulo will be played at the Itaquerao stadium, which hosted the World Cup opener.
With the city confirmed as a host, Olympic organizers decided to extend the deadline for fans to apply for tickets, saying they were “given an extra six days to complete their application” and add requests for the football matches.
The original deadline was to end Thursday.
The extension was valid for all other events and fans who had already applied for tickets can still make new requests.
Brazilian residents are entering a random draw for the tickets, while international fans have to go through an official reseller in their own country.
There were no details about Thursday’s meeting in Sao Paulo, but local organizers said afterward that “the two entities will work together with games sponsors to find ways to fund the temporary structures needed to host the tournament in the city.”
Sao Paulo officials had estimated costs of about $5 million just for the temporary structures needed at the 48,000-capacity Itaquerao stadium. They said the city was seeking private partners to help pay for the costs.
Members of the organizing committee were in Sao Paulo this week to meet with local officials and inspect the Itaquerao, which will host 10 Olympic matches, including a men’s semifinal and the women’s bronze medal game.
“The stadium complies with all FIFA requirements and was successfully tested in the World Cup,” said Rodrigo Garcia, the sports director for the local organizing committee. “In addition, although the games-time operation will be heavier than the stadium’s routine operations, it will be significantly lighter than during the World Cup, so we are certain that the arena is prepared for Rio 2016.”
The Olympic Games will be extra special for Brazil’s men’s national team as it’s the only significant football tournament it has never won. Brazil’s women’s team also has never won the Olympic gold in football.
Football is the only Olympic competition that will be played outside of Rio, which is expected to host games at the Maracana, where the World Cup final took place, and at the Engenhao stadium, which will also host the athletics competitions.
The 16-team men’s tournament and 12-team women’s tournament will be played Aug. 3-20.