News / Americas

Brazil Makes Last-Minute Rush to Be Ready for World Cup

A general view of the Esplanada dos Ministerios, decorated with green and yellow ligh, the national colors of Brazil, in honor of FIFA World Cup, in Brasilia, Brazil, June 2, 2014.
A general view of the Esplanada dos Ministerios, decorated with green and yellow ligh, the national colors of Brazil, in honor of FIFA World Cup, in Brasilia, Brazil, June 2, 2014.
Reuters
— With just over a week to go before the World Cup kicks off, Brazil is racing to get its stadiums, airports, roads and phone networks ready before hundreds of thousands of soccer fans descend on the country.
 
Airports in nearly all 12 host cities are swarmed with construction workers laying parking lots, installing check-in counters and kicking up clouds of dust with long-delayed expansions.
 
Workers at several stadiums are still struggling to set up cell phone networks that can withstand tens of thousands of smartphones. Temporary bleachers in Sao Paulo's stadium, which will host the opening game on June 12, have still not been tested under the full weight of fans.
 
After more than 13 years of intermittent construction, trains are finally making test runs on a metro that will deliver ticket holders to the stadium in the northeastern city of Salvador.
 
Only about half the projects promised for the World Cup have been delivered and many of those are only partly done, souring the mood in a country obsessed with soccer but increasingly skeptical about the benefits of hosting the show.
 
The late rush means most of the critical infrastructure will be in place and few doubt that the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950 will be one to remember.
 
President Dilma Rousseff promises Brazil will be fully ready on time even as she recognizes delays with some big projects.
 
“Nobody does a (subway) in two years. Well, maybe China,” she said with a smile during a meeting with foreign journalists on Tuesday night, calling delays “the cost of our democracy.”
 
Still, frustrations over broken budgets, sloppy planning and missed opportunities to build a more enduring legacy fueled a wave of protests last year and still loom over the World Cup.
 
The cycle of dire warnings and a late scramble to get ready is a familiar one ahead of the World Cup and the Olympics, and host nations usually manage to silence skeptics in the end. Even by those standards, though, Brazil is cutting it close.
 
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in January that Brazil was further behind than any other host country he could recall with just five months to go.
 
Now he and other FIFA officials are putting on their game faces and adopting a more optimistic tone.
 
“I am sure it will be a great, great success,” Blatter said. “The Brazilian spirit of the game and the Brazilian ability to play football makes this World Cup very, very special.”
 
Throughout the country, Brazil's flag and iconic yellow jerseys are multiplying on the streets. Blending dogged pride with defiance of sporadic protests, some Brazilians have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #VaiTerCopaSim - or “Yes, there will be a World Cup.”
 
The Brazilian team, which has already won the World Cup a record five times, is widely favored to win again. If it does, home fans will put on a party to remember.

Not ready yet
 
For organizers, however, it is still too early to celebrate. Workers in Sao Paulo and Natal have spent the last week installing seats in stadiums that were supposed to be ready in December.
 
The Sao Paulo stadium staged a weekend game to test its readiness but used about half the seating capacity and just a quarter of the temporary bleachers, some of which had not cleared safety checks.
 
Pick-up and drop-off areas at the airport in Belo Horizonte have been redirected around a crane. Workers in orange jumpsuits mingle with travelers in the main concourse.
 
In Manaus, passengers complain of the clouds of dust from the airport's ongoing expansion, while tractors are still working on new parking lots outside.
 
Even at new airports where the dust has settled, terminals promised for the World Cup may not be used for the tournament because they were delivered with so little time for inspection.
 
The second of two new terminals promised for the World Cup in the capital Brasilia was delivered last month but regulators have not yet authorized it for operation. A new airport west of Natal was only cleared for international arrivals on Tuesday.
 
Getting to and from some airports is also a headache as projects meant to smooth the connection to downtown areas are instead snarling traffic.
 
In Curitiba, 10 miles (16 km) of road to the airport is now a construction zone funneling cars from four lanes to as few as one, doubling or tripling what had been a 30-minute ride.
 
A light rail project promised for the World Cup in Cuiaba won't enter service this year, but dozens of workers still swarm the work site where rails pass outside the airport. Driving from there to the city center can now take up to two hours.
 
In some places workers have even reversed course, filling in trenches they had dug in order to cover up work sites with squares of grassy sod.
 
Determined to highlight signs of progress, Rousseff has inaugurated a series of high-profile public work projects, although construction continues on many of them
 
On Sunday, she celebrated the opening of a $700 million bus corridor across Rio de Janeiro, running from the airport at the north end of town to a booming beachside borough in the south. Only half the stations are open and just two of a planned seven bus lines will be ready in time for the World Cup.
 
At the expanded airport terminal Rousseff visited earlier in the day, construction was covered over with plywood barriers.
 
She played down the World Cup connection, saying they are long-term investments. “We're not making airports or projects of this scale for the World Cup. We do it for all Brazilians.”
 
Still, the tournament offered a clear deadline for big transportation programs such as Salvador's metro, which languished for years after work first started in 2000.
 
Tests on the long-awaited metro line were suspended after a worker died in an accident and service is now set to begin June 11, on the eve of the tournament opener

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US
More

House Republicans Present Border Plan for Child Migrant Crisis

Proposal, they say, offers alternative to emergency funding requested by President Obama to deal with massive influx of illegals
More

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

John Berry spoke at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
More

China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

Head of China's Communist Party hails common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicks off a state visit in Havana
More

US Judge Orders Argentina, Creditors to Reach Deal

Lawyers for investors who declined to restructure bonds after country defaulted on about $100B in 2002 warned that time running out to reach a deal, avert fresh default
More

Trial Imminent for Detained Venezuelan Protest Leader Lopez

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, says outside pressure needed on Venezuelan president to move case forward
More