Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Arthur Boppre

RIO DE JANEIRO: Fans will return to football matches in Rio de Janeiro next month after a six-month coronavirus ban, reports Xinhua news agency quoted local authorities as saying on Friday.

Up to 20,000 fans will be allowed to enter the 79,000-capacity Maracana Stadium for Flamengo’s home match against Athletico Paranaense in Brazil’s Serie A on Oct 4.

“We’re going to call on the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to make the Maracana an alternative to the beach,” Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella told reporters.

“Today the biggest problem Rio faces are the big crowds of people with no masks at the beach.”

Brazilian football was suspended in mid-March, just days after the World Health Organisation classified the virus as a global pandemic.

The Rio de Janeiro state championship resumed behind closed doors in June and officials had hoped to reopen stadiums in July but changed their minds as infections soared.

Brazil has reported more than 135,000 Covid-19 deaths and over 4,497,000 confirmed cases of the virus. – Bernama