Olympics: Basketball game starts in empty arena after loud blast

A bomb disposal truck of the Federal Police is pictured outside the Rio Olympics basketball stadium on August 11 as Brazilian security forces staged an apparent controlled explosion.
A bomb disposal truck of the Federal Police is pictured outside the Rio Olympics basketball stadium on August 11 as Brazilian security forces staged an apparent controlled explosion.PHOTO: AFP
Spectators are pictured outside the Carioca Arena 1, where the basketball games are played, in Rio de Janeiro on August 11 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Spectators are pictured outside the Carioca Arena 1, where the basketball games are played, in Rio de Janeiro on August 11 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.PHOTO: AFP
The near empty arena during the 2016 Rio Olympics  Basketball game between Nigeria and Spain.
The near empty arena during the 2016 Rio Olympics Basketball game between Nigeria and Spain. PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Brazilian security forces staged an apparent controlled explosion at the Rio Olympics basketball arena on Thursday, forcing Spain and Nigeria to start their game in an empty arena.

An explosion was heard just before the scheduled start of the game in Rio's main Olympic park. The blast also was heard at many neighbouring arenas.

Security officials at the Olympic park had told AFP just before the explosion that there was a "special situation" that forced them to prevent a long queue of fans from entering the arena.

 

Spanish and Nigerian players tipped off the game with no one in the stands, but fans were allowed in soon after that as security gave the all-clear.

The game was not affected. Spain won the men's Group B game 96-87.

A Rio 2016 spokeswoman at the arena declined comment on what exactly took place, saying Games organisers would issue a statement.

There have been at least three controlled explosions of suspect items in Rio since the Olympics started. One was near the finish line of the cycling road race on Saturday.