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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.

    More Americas News

    Video Olympics Technology Center Getting Ready for 2016 Games

    This year, the whole system will be cloud-based, enabling millions of fans around the world instant access to relevant information about the competition

    Red Cross Scales Up Community Action to Combat Zika

    ICRCS is mobilizing its large volunteer force in affected communities to help them clear up trash and areas where mosquitoes can breed

    Haiti's Prime Minister Calls for Peace on 1st Day Without President

    Evans Paul urges Haitian protesters to end weeks of sometimes violent street marches and join a dialogue to create a transitional government

    Social Media Erupts in Support of Sikh Man Barred from Flight

    Waris Ahluwalia says he was barred from boarding a flight from Mexico City to New York because he refused to remove his turban

    Canada Ending Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria

    Canadian PM Trudeau said a campaign of airstrikes is useful for bringing short-term gains, but not for long-term stability

    Cuban Baseball Stars, the Gurriel Brothers, Abandon Team

    A record 150 baseball players defected last year; Gurriels deemed exceptional loss because of skill, fame and perceived loyalty