RIO DE JANEIRO, July 12 � Finally got the opportunity to visit the world famous Maracana Stadium and it just took a 15 minute drive from my hotel. What a giant and beautiful structure! It was opened on June 16, 1950 for the World Cup. That time, the capacity was 1,99,854, but after three renovations in 2000, 2006 and 2013 the capacity was reduced to 78,838.
On July 13, this stadium will witness the grand finale of the 2014 World Cup football with a titanic battle between former champions Argentina and Germany. The stadium is equipped with 12 gates and Gate C is for the mediapersons. Like Sao Paulo, a big media centre has been set up with an accommodation for about 1500 journalists from all over the world. FIFA has provided all facilities for the journalists.
When I arrived there, supporters of both the teams gathered in groups and were cheering for their teams with national flags. An unbelievable atmosphere, that too two days before the final match. One local man with a Brazilian football uniform was seen juggling a ball to attract soccer fans from different countries.
A running track has been set up whole round the stadium and some youngsters were seen jogging on the track. It was 2 pm, local time. They may not be top class athletes but it made me realise why Brazil is a sporting nation. I came to know that the system is so scientific that after the match within half an hour all the spectators can come out without any hassle.
Choppers were flying round the stadium to monitor the security set-up. The government is leaving no stone unturned in order to provide foolproof security to the players, officials and even to the spectators.
The famous Sambodromo, the street where the Rio carnival takes place, could be seen on way to the Maracana. Now the place is reserved by the government for the parking of Argentinean supporters.