Despite being the fifth largest country in the world and one of the most passionate and successful nations when it comes to football, Brazil hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 1950.Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that no South American city has ever staged an Olympic Games. So, awarding the 2014 FIFA World Cup to Brazil and deciding to hold the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro were probably long overdue, although no one doubted the size of the task ahead of the country. Now, however, there are serious concerns that the task is proving too great.
To some degree, Brazil has a head start because it staged the 2007 Pan American Games and built many facilities then to Olympic specifications. The result is that it has 60% of the necessary sports venues in place. But it still has major construction and renovation needs for the two events.
The World Cup is to be staged across twelve cities and the intention is to build five new stadia and undertake radical makeovers of a further seven at a cost of US$5.7 billion. Added to this is a plan to improve transport links between the venues by constructing 2,518 kilometres of new railway routes. This includes a high-speed rail link between Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Campinas.
Large investments are also due to be made in infrastructure, with telecommunications due to get $11.5 billion a year for the next five years. Major road routes, which are often riddled with potholes, are due an upgrade. Airport facilities, already under severe strain and with traffic due to double by 2014, are to receive a $3.3 billion investment.
With the World Cup expected to attract 500,000 tourists and tourism in Rio de Janeiro expected to be up 15% by 2016, there is a push to build more hotel accommodation. Rio is increasing its capacity to 50,000 rooms while its historic port area is due for a strategic regeneration. All host cities for the football are expanding their hotel networks. Overall, public works projects worth $52 billion are planned.
One outcome of all this development is a boost for green construction in the country. Olympic stadia have to be built to meet low carbon emission and low energy standards. Although the same is not true for World Cup facilities, developers are in general trying to achieve LEED certification, with four stadia having reached the standard and four others trying to attain it. As a result, the proportion of green building space in Brazil is expected to increase by 30% a year. » Read more: Brazil World Cup and Olympics