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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Haiti’s First Family Under Corruption Probe Cloud

President's son and wife are accused of abuse of authority, money laundering, and squandering public funds
More

Video Washington Week: Focus on Cuba, North Korea

President Obama, lawmakers out of town for holidays but many remain transfixed with US-Cuba thaw, Sony Pictures hack
More

Health Minister Named as Haiti's New Interim Prime Minister

Announcement is part of effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections
More

Kerry: US-Cuba Thaw Will Advance Interests for Both

Secretary of state says 11 million people of Cuba have waited far too long - more than half a century - to 'fulfill their democratic aspirations' and build closer ties with rest of world
More

Cuba's Famed Cigars Get a Foot in Door of US Market

Under new rules to be implemented soon, US will make it easier for some Americans to travel to Cuba and they will be able to return with $100 worth of alcohol, tobacco
More

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More