SBD/July 15, 2014/Olympics

Smooth World Cup Brings Optimism For '16 Rio Games, But Logistical Challenges Remain

Rio faces the challenge of finishing infrastructure projects for '16
A "largely smooth" '14 FIFA World Cup has given Brazilian officials and the IOC a "shot of optimism" as they look ahead to the '16 Summer Games, according to Paul Kiernan of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. But most of the sports venues, a new subway line, a rapid-bus line and other facilities for the Olympics "remain to be finished." Construction "began this month on the Olympics complex in Deodoro, a military area more than 20 miles from Rio's main tourist areas such as Copacabana Beach." The Olympic Village, which "appeared threatened in March by reports of a delayed loan payment from the state-run bank" financing the project, is a "source of concern." Getting the venues ready "is only half the battle for Rio." The "greater -- and more expensive -- challenge the city faces is finishing infrastructure projects on time for the Games, including the new subway and rapid-bus lines" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/15). Visa Senior VP/Global Sponsorship Ricardo Fort said, "One of the concerns was: Would Brazil be able to manage cities in terms of security, mobility and hospitality? We are confident now they will be able to do it (in Rio)." GMR Marketing Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Jan Katzoff said, "They did a good job delivering the World Cup but still have a lot to do to be prepared for all the moving parts of an Olympics" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/14 issue).

IN THE REAR VIEW: A N.Y. TIMES editorial states Brazil "can be proud of the World Cup it held." The crowds "were colorful, loud and behaved, and the play ranged from entertaining to utterly brilliant, all devoured by record-breaking audiences on television and social media." The World Cup "demonstrated why football, a.k.a. soccer, is the most global and popular of sports" and why it "is time for FIFA to measure up to the sport it governs" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/15). In Phoenix, Sean Holstege writes the World Cup "shattered expectations and dreams alike" on the field. Most of the stadiums "were nearly full," and the fans "were fanatic." However, it was "impossible not to notice the security, heavy even by soccer standards" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/15). In London, Sam Wallace wrote the World Cup as a TV spectacle "must have looked like a ravishing, sunlit party." But it "felt different" on the ground. Wallace: "If it took this many policeman to ensure a city operated safely, what would it be like when they all went back to their usual hours?" (London INDEPENDENT, 7/14). In L.A., Baxter & Bevins note the bill for this World Cup is "likely to exceed" $14B by the time the final accounting is done, "more than three times what it cost" for the '10 World Cup in South Africa. But attendance "was higher as well, topping 3.4 million, the second-highest figure in tournament history" (L.A. TIMES, 7/15).

FROM RUSSIA WITH...: The AFP notes Russia President Vladimir Putin has vowed "an unforgettable football feast" when his country hosts the '18 World Cup. The tournament will be Russia's "most ambitious project since the fall of the Soviet Union." But Putin "is confident." He said, "We will do all we can to organize the event on the highest level." Russia Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko initially estimated the total cost of the event will be US$21B, and said that half will "come from private investment and half from eight regional budgets" (AFP, 7/15). In London, Shaun Walker reported the buildup to Russia's first World Cup is "likely to bring all the excitement and controversy that usually come with such tournaments." Set to be the "most expensive World Cup ever, the majority of stadiums will have to be built from scratch, and sweeping infrastructure improvements have been promised to allow fans to move between cities." Nevertheless, there will be "plenty of logistical problems when it comes to travelling between the cities." Russia's train network is "impressive but hardly fast: getting from Moscow to Yekaterinburg, for example, takes 24 hours" (GUARDIAN, 7/14).
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Related Topics:

FIFA World Cup, Olympics

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