The good news: Brazil will be ready to host the 2016 Olympics, which promises to be amazing. The 2014 World Cup, on the other hand? Well, maybe not.
Reuters goes deep into the infrastructure issues, finding stadiums unbuilt, roads non-existant, and no one with any idea when and where the money to finish everything will arrive.
The caveat is that this happens every time the World Cup takes place in a new country. Remember the drama and concern pre-South Africa? That tournament ended up going okay, didn’t it?
That said, Brazil’s World Cup kicks off in 651 days (courtesy of FIFA.com’s kick off counter), and the problems are huge. Reuters interviewed Benedicto Barbosa da Silva Junior — the CEO for Odebrecht’s Brazil infrastructure unit, which is building four stadiums — and learned some concerning facts. We picked a few of the highlights:
- The company is still trying to close a deal for financing for the new stadium in Sao Paulo — even though it’s nearly halfway finished.
- Maracanã stadium, which hosted the final of the 1950 World Cup, has also been complicated. “We should have demolished it and then started from zero, just like (the British) did with Wembley,” Junior said.
- Eduardo Paes, Rio’s mayor, said this week that his city’s decrepit, overcrowded international airport might not be renovated in time for the Cup — despite President Dilma Rousseff’s plan, likely to be unveiled in coming weeks, to get private companies more involved in construction there. “It’s a shame this wasn’t done earlier,” Paes told local newspaper Brasil Economico. “For the Olympics, yeah, I think we’ll have time.”
- Local media reported this month that Rousseff herself was enraged when she made a cell phone call to her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — and the call dropped three times.
History indicates that Brazil will probably be ready. The pattern is lower expectations, then exceed them. But man, oh man, maybe put those World Cup plans on hold for just a bit. It sounds like a total nightmare.
(The real question: Why do countries/cities continue to want to host these massive events that cost billions, scare everyone, and leave only debt and abandoned stadiums? Riddle me that, commenters.)