A controlled explosion has taken place inside the Maracanã Stadium in Rio, just days before it will host the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

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Police in Rio investigating explosion near opening ceremony venue

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Authorities sent in a robot to investigate a suspicious toolbox on Sunday where rehearsals for the Olympic's curtain-raiser were taking place.

Brazilian police discovered the small toolbox on Sunday at the Maracanã Stadium while rehearsals were being carried out. Photo: AP

The robot carried out a controlled explosion on the toolbox and no injuries were reported.

With dignitaries and world leaders heading to Rio for the opening ceremony on Friday, the incident will add to the pre-event jitters around security.

There has already been incidents of the Australian Olympic team being targeted by thieves and official facilities collapsing.

A ramp built for competitors' boats to reach the water hangs after collapsing at the Marina da Gloria sailing venue just days before the start of the Olympic Games. Photo: Reuters

A fire ignited in the basement of the Australian athletes village on Friday and 100 Aussie officials and athletes were evacuated from their high security dwellings.

While the team were forced to stand outside for about 30 minutes, thieves gained access during the evacuation and stole two laptops and team shirts from vacant rooms.

"We did lose some shirts and a couple of laptops, one on the fifth floor from a cycling official and one in the office downstairs," Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) spokesman Mike Tancred said.




The Olympic Village is a non-smoking venue and the Australian team hierarchy believe the fire was started by a cigarette tossed into piles of rubbish by a local worker.

"When I arrived midway through the evacuation I saw three fire (officers)… walking out with team shirts," Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller said.

"There is no CCTV in the village. At the time I did not know (who they were). They were not team members. I did not know then whether they were volunteers who were given shirts because they helped to evacuate us."

The robbery comes after fire alarms in the building were deactivated without Australian officials being told and veteran shooter Warren Potent said he slept through the scare, not woken by door knocking or phone calls.

"Obviously that is completely unacceptable that a) the fire alarm was disabled and b) that if it had to be, that we weren't warned about that," Chiller told reporters.

The Olympic chief has been sacked just one week after the Australian apartment tower, number 23, was deemed uninhabitable.
Brazilian Army Forces soldiers patrol outside the 2016 Rio Olympics Park in front of the tennis center court venue in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters

The AOC has since appointed their own security floor wardens to ensure team safety on each of the 18 floors of the building. The wardens have also triple-checked the fire alarms are working again.

"There was no point in laying blame or saying 'could have or should have' at that point last night," Chiller said.

However, she warned team leaders of other nations to look for potential fire hazards.

"I spoke to a couple of my colleagues, three or four other NOCs (national Olympic committees) last night, and just said 'look, check your basement, see what rubbish is still left there'," she said.

Brazilian media is reporting that Mario Cilenti, the head of the athletes’ village in Rio, has also been sacked and key staff members stood down just one week after the Australian apartment tower, number 23, was deemed uninhabitable.

The rooms were reportedly so squalid, Chiller sent the athletes to hotels in Rio while issues with exposed wiring, leaking pipes and blocked toilets were resolved.

Artistic gymnast Larissa Miller said there was still a gas leak in her Olympic village room, even after emergency repairs were carried out.

There is a dark cloud hanging over Rio and the country's high propensity of street crime is posing as a greater threat to the health of athletes than the Zika virus. Photo: Getty
A Brazilian Army Forces soldier patrols on Copacabana beach ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic games. Photo: Reuters
A "Welcome to Hell" sign was held up outside Rio's airport as tourists arrived. Photo: Twitter/Michael Smith

Not only is security and street crime haunting the event, further questions have been raised about the quality of construction in the Olympic host city after the main boat ramp, Marina da Gloria, collapsed on Saturday.

The ramp was built in only three days and is the main access point for boats to reach the water.

No one was injured.

Philip Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Rio 2016 organising committee, placed the blame on high tides and a stormy sea.

A ramp built for competitors' boats to reach the water hangs after collapsing at the Marina da Gloria sailing venue just days. Photo: Pilar Olivares / Reuters

Wilkinson also said the construction company responsible for the project has been contacted and is expected to make the repairs within four days.

Sailing competitions begin August 8 and the first events will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 3.

Training will not be affected as the boats can use the permanent ramp to the side of the damaged structure, the Rio 2016's spokesman said.

Rio's construction standards have been under heavy criticism since April, when a new elevated bike path that was heralded as a top legacy project of the Rio Olympics collapsed, killing two people.

The dark cloud hanging over Rio and the country's high propensity for street crime is posing as a greater threat to the health of Olympic athletes and visitors than the much talked-about Zika virus.

News break – August 1

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News break - August 1

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