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Brazil to allow football fans from 4 October

Mayor Marcelo Crivella said the city would allow up to 20,000 fans at the first match, to be played at the legendary Maracana stadium.

Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: Twitter/@RioDiary.

BRAZIL - Rio de Janeiro on Friday authorised football fans to return to stadiums from 4 October, after a six-month hiatus for the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to batter Brazil.

"Rio city hall announces the return of fans to stadiums," the city said in a statement.

"They will be required to wear protective masks and undergo temperature checks at the entrance. Ticket sales will be online to avoid crowds."

The decision still needs a green light from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

Rio authorities initially announced in June they would allow fans back into stadiums from 10 July, but quickly backtracked as the pandemic surged.

Mayor Marcelo Crivella said the city would allow up to 20,000 fans at the first match, to be played at the legendary Maracana stadium between Flamengo and Athletico Paranaense.

He said he hoped that would help reduce crowds at the city's iconic beaches, where the authorities have struggled to enforce a ban.

"We're going to call on the CBF to make Maracana stadium an alternative to the beach. Today, perhaps the biggest problem Rio faces are the big crowds of people with no masks at the beach," he told journalists.

Brazil has the second-highest death toll in the pandemic, after the United States, with nearly 136,000 people killed.

Rio de Janeiro state is among the areas hit hardest. If it were a country, it would have the world's second-highest mortality rate from the disease, at 102 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.