Stuttering Start for Olympic Football

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Sparse crowd for opening match of Rio Olympics (WFI)
(WFI) The Rio 2016 Olympics kicked off on Wednesday in the Olympic Stadium with the women's football competition but proceedings did not run entirely smoothly.

The first action of this year's Games was Sweden beating South Africa 1-0 in Group E of the competition in front of a sparse crowd. Hosts Brazil thrashed China 3-0 in the day's later game.

The Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange - named after the former FIFA president and IOC member - reopened last year after structural problems with the roof were identified in 2013.

However, it was technical problems causing problems for journalists reporting at the match on Wednesday as the TV feed was not working on any of the screens in the press tribune. With the seats high up in the stadium, which will also host athletics, the task was made more difficult to document the finer points of the game.

No TV feed in the press tribune for opening soccer match (WFI)
There was also confusion and malfunctions with the lifts that took reporters from the tribunes down to the media center and mixed zones. On more than one occasion lifts broke down, meaning maintenance men had to try to rectify the problem quickly. Several journalists missed players in the mixed zone after the match and the beginning of South Africa head coach Paula Zaid's press conference because of the malfunction.

Lack of signage also caused confusion, with no clear directions leading journalists smoothly around the venue.

There was also embarrassment for Olympic sponsor Visa. Card machines at all the refreshment kiosks were unable to take payment during the first match. A senior staff member was asked by INSIDER when it was likely the problem would be rectified and his answer was "I don't know. They're just not working".

Although every event has its teething problems to begin with, some issues were avoidable, as one toilet did not even have a bin for paper tissues just a black sack on the floor. Not quite what the IOC have come to expect from Olympic venues.

Organizers might also have been concerned by the scores of empty seats inside the 60,000 capacity venue as Sweden kicked off against South Africa. Although hundreds of fans gradually poured in for the second match featuring hosts Brazil.

The men's Olympic tournament begins on Thursday and will likely draw larger crowds than the opening day of Olympic action. Iraq begins the tournament with a match against Denmark followed by host country Brazil squaring off against South Africa at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino will also be in attendance for Thursday's matches. He will watch the two games in Rio on before taking his place at Brazilian football mecca the Maracana on Friday evening. Infantino is one of many dignitaries at the curtain-raiser to the 16-day Olympic showpiece.

By INSIDER Christian Ratnedge

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