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Rio to close 38 streets around Maracana for opening ceremony


Rio de Janeiro, July 31 (IANS) Authorities in Rio de Janeiro have stepped up security for Friday's Olympic Games opening ceremony to combat the threat of terrorism. Some 38 streets around Maracana stadium will be closed for up to 20 hours before the ceremony starts while additional police officers and soldiers will be deployed, according to Rio's city government.

The new plan follows a recommendation by local security chiefs to "further restrict the movement of people and close loopholes for possible terrorist attacks", the Globo newspaper reported.

"The planning was altered and it will be changed again, if necessary," city government spokesman Leonardo Maciel said.

An opening ceremony simulation drill will be conducted by security personnel at the Maracana on Sunday, he added, reports Xinhua.

Authorities have also been discussing procedures for the 45 foreign leaders attending the ceremony.

The heads of state will meet at the Itamaraty palace in the centre of Rio before travelling in a motorcade to the Maracana, in the city's north.

Officials said more than one route has been planned to avoid any unforeseen events.

Brazil will deploy 88,000 soldiers and police during the August 5-21 Games, more than double the number used at the London 2012 Olympics.

Local media has reported that there will be a special security plan in place for French President Francois Hollande during the opening ceremony.

France has been the target of three major terror atrocities in the past 18 months, including an attack in Nice this month when 84 people were mown down by a truck while celebrating Bastille Day fireworks.

Intelligence agencies from more than 100 countries are working alongside Brazil's federal police and armed forces to combat terror plots in Rio, according to the government.



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