Rio utilities cut water, power at showpiece Olympic venue

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Rio de Janeiro's Nilton Santos stadium - one of the showpiece venues for next year's Olympic Games - is currently without running water and electricity due to unpaid bills.

The stadium has racked up about 225,000 US dollars in outstanding utility bills in the past two months, according to the Globoesporte news portal.

Images published by the portal show the venue in a state of neglect with the turf overgrown and discolored by a lack of water.

Known locally as the Engenhao, the Nilton Santos stadium is slated to host athletics events at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The stadium has been closed since March 2013 after it was found the roof could collapse due to structural defects.

The cost of the repair work has been the focus of a bitter legal dispute between Rio's city government, which owns the venue, and Botafogo football club - which administrates it under a long-term lease agreement.

"We have to look at who is responsible (for the unpaid bills) and will have an answer on Monday," Botafogo president Carlos Eduardo Pereira said.

A spokesperson for the government was not immediately available for comment.

Located in Rio's north, the Nilton Santos stadium was built for the 2007 Pan American Games at a cost of 192 million US dollars.

According to Rio 2016 organizers, the stadium's capacity will be increased from 46,000 to 60,000 for the Olympics, which begin on August 5.

Brazil is in the midst of its worst recession in decades, hit by a devastating corruption scandal at state-run oil firm Petrobras.

Soaring inflation and a sharp devaluation of the currency have forced organizers to slash spending to avoid a budget blowout.

The Rio 2016 committee is seeking to prune over 500 million US dollars in costs to maintain its 1.9 billion-dollar operating budget. Endit

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