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Volume 10 No. 25

Events and Attractions

U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson remains "absolutely confident" Sunday's London Marathon can be kept safe and that the annual race around the streets of the capital should go ahead to "show solidarity with Boston," according to Robin Scott-Elliot of the London INDEPENDENT. Robertson said, "The best way for us to react is to push ahead with the marathon on Sunday, to get people on the streets and to celebrate it as we always do in London -- and to send a very clear message that we won't be cowered by this sort of behavior." Around 37,500 people, from elite athletes to fun runners, "will take part in Sunday's marathon with an estimated half a million spectators expected to watch the race" (INDEPENDENT, 4/16). In London, Gibson, Walker & Dodd reported police and London Marathon officials "are expected to have a series of discussions about security following the explosions in Boston." Scotland Yard is waiting for details to emerge from U.S. investigators, such as who is thought to be behind the blasts, as well as information about the bombs' construction and the types of explosives used, "which will help give clues about whether the perpetrator or perpetrators were inspired by al-Qaida ideology or other forms of extremism." London Mayor Boris Johnson said that he "was shocked by the events at the Boston Marathon," which is the world's oldest. Johnson: "The bombings in Boston are shocking, cowardly and horrific, and the thoughts of all Londoners this morning will be with the victims" (GUARDIAN, 4/16). The BBC reported Metropolitan Police Commander Christine Jones said that "security was being reviewed following two deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon." Jones said the public should be "reassured" the police were "very, very well-practised" at managing big events (BBC, 4/16).

ROYAL PRESENCE: In London, English, Infante & Duell wrote Prince Harry "will go ahead with a hugely public visit to the London Marathon despite the Boston atrocity, as security plans were tightened ahead of Sunday's event." Palace sources confirmed Tuesday morning that the third in line to the throne "has no plans to cancel the long-standing engagement despite increased security fears following the U.S. bombings." The prince is patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust and "will make the presentations to the winners of the mini marathon, the elite men and women and the wheelchair IPC Athletic Marathon World Cup races." It is likely, however, "that the prince's team of bodyguards from Scotland Yard's crack SO14 diplomatic and royalty protection unit will be dramatically stepping up the security around him" (DAILY MAIL, 4/16).

HEARTS FOR BOSTON: In London, Owen Gibson wrote, "This weekend's London Marathon will feature tributes to those killed and injured at the Boston equivalent." Organizers "spent the day in meetings with the Metropolitan police as they reviewed and tightened security for the event." The London Marathon CEO Nick Bitel "is believed to have received offers of help and support from around the world, as a social media campaign urged runners to cross the finish line with their hand over their hearts in a show of solidarity with those in Boston" (GUARDIAN, 4/16).

SILENCE ON THE PITCH: In London, Dominic King wrote a one-minute silence will be held before Tuesday night's Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton "to mark the Boston Marathon bombings and 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster." The tribute had already been penciled in to honor the 96 lives lost at Hillsborough, "but the moment will now be extended to mark the tragic events in Boston" Monday, where at least three people were killed. Both sets of players "will also wear black armbands as will referee Neil Swarbrick and his officials" (DAILY MAIL, 4/16).

CHILLING EFFECT: In London, Giles Mole wrote Joel Laine, head of the Paris Marathon, which passed off peacefully earlier this month, fears that Monday's explosions at the Boston Marathon "will have a chilling effect on the London Marathon." Laine: "There will be without doubt a climate of suspicion for a good while surrounding these type of events. I am thinking notably of the London Marathon. I am thinking of the anxiety this will instill in the competitors and their families" (TELEGRAPH, 4/16).

RUSSIAN REACTION: REUTERS' Gennady Fyodorov wrote Russian authorities have promised tougher security measures at August's world athletics championships. Russia's athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichyov said, "The security arrangements will certainly be reviewed after what happened in Boston. Security has always been of the highest standard at all our sporting events but, no doubt, we will take into account the latest events and how it was done." Balakhnichyov said Moscow would have a "triple level of protection" for the Aug. 10-18 championships (REUTERS, 4/16). The BANGKOK POST reported Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said, "For Russia, which will have to soon stage a number of major sporting events, this is a serious warning bell." Besides the '14 event in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia "will also host the University Games in Kazan later this year, as well as the 2018 Football World Cup." The Sochi Games will be staged on the edge of the restless North Caucasus, "where Russia waged two post-Soviet wars in Chechnya, and where violence is prevalent in nearby Dagestan." Mutko said Russia was "very worried" about security at all the sporting events (BANGKOK POST, 4/16).

HEIGHTENED SECURITY: XINHUA reported the Madrid Marathon "will strengthen" security measures. The marathon, which will be celebrating its 36th edition as the city enters the closing straight of the race to be chosen as the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games, "is due to be held on Sunday, April 28 and over 20,000 athletes have already been inscribed with a total of 26,000 expected to participate." Madrid Marathon Dir Pedro Rumbao said, "As soon as we heard of the explosions in the Boston Marathon, we got into contact with the Madrid Town Hall" (XINHUA, 4/16). The AP reported Rio Olympic organizers "expressed their sadness after the deadly explosions and quickly moved to reiterate that security is 'a top priority' as the city prepares for the 2016 Games." The 2016 Olympic committee offered condolences to those affected by the explosions and said that "it is constantly working with the local government to guarantee the Games' safety." The committee said, "Security is always a top priority for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we are working very closely with our government partners to deliver safe Games in 2016" (AP, 4/15).

With only two months left until the opening whistle of the FIFA Confederations Cup, the world looks at Brazil to judge its performance during the dress rehearsal for next year's World Cup. 2014 World Cup Local Organizing Committee CEO RICARDO TRADE recently spoke with SBD Global about the atmosphere on the streets in Brazil, delays in stadium construction, security concerns and the challenges of hosting major sporting events.

In 2014, Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup for the fist time since 1950. What is the atmosphere on the streets in Brazil? How is the local support?
Ricardo Trade: Brazil will not only host the World Cup, we are also hosting the Olympics and a huge religious event in July. We will welcome the Pope together with a lot of Catholics here in Brazil. There is a huge atmosphere of joy and celebration. With those huge events over the next couple years, we can show our capacity to deliver great events, with great quality. Research proves that 86 percent of the people say it is wonderful to have the World Cup. A sign of success is also the volunteers program for which we received 130,000 applications. Another sign of success is the number of tickets we have sold for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June. We set a new record with more than 500,000 tickets already sold for the competition. I think it’s a wonderful celebration. We have six host cities and eight great national teams particitpating in the Confederations Cup and our expectations are high.

Q: Brazil will not only host the World Cup next year, but also the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016. How closely do you work with the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee?
Trade: We have an excellent relationship. We have a cooperation group between us that is approved by FIFA and the IOC. We discuss some important matters with each other such as the volunteers program. We will also use five of the 12 World Cup stadiums for the Olympics: Sao Paulo, Rio, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Brasilia. We are exchanging information regarding those stadiums with each other. We also have a group of experts working on this, and we work together on the observer program.

Q: The stadiums are behind schedule. Only three (four by now) out of the six stadiums that will be in use for the Confederations Cup in June are completed. What is the current state of the stadium construction? Are you concerned?
Trade: We have three stadiums ready for the Confederations Cup, and we will start using these stadiums for test events. On April 21, they will deliver the stadium in Brasilia. On April 27, they will deliver the stadium of Maracanã [in Rio de Janeiro], where we will have a match between the ‘Friends of Ronaldo’ and the ‘Friends of Bebeto’ with the construction workers in the stands to celebrate the completion of the stadium. There will also be test events and matches at the stadiums throughout May and two in June. We are comfortable to say that we have challenges regarding the stadiums. It’s not so easy to deliver them. We have some giant stadiums here like Maracanã and Brasilia, which makes it very difficult to deliver them on time, but they are doing an excellent job. They have about 6,000 people working in each of the stadiums to deliver on time. For the World Cup the idea is to have all the stadiums ready by Dec. 31. Because it’s better for us to use the stadiums during January, February, March and April, and then we could start the test events. Overall, I think we are in good shape. We have a system here to monitor and control the stadium-building process. We have a team of 25 experts and architects and engineers in the cities. We have two cameras in each stadium. We have a written monthly report with more than 106 pages regarding the stadium-building process. We are very confident.

Q: You just mentioned challenges especially with the Maracanã stadium in Rio and the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia. What are those challenges?
Trade: The challenges are that they are bigger than the others. They are not new constructions. They are not putting them down and then starting again. For example, at the Maracanã we have to respect the laws regarding its heritage. It also is a huge construction. It is a huge stadium with more than 70,000 people inside. And every stadium we remodel is a huge challenge for the engineers who are doing it. On this note, it is important to mention that we have some of the best building companies in the world here in Brazil. One of them is Odebrecht, which is building four stadiums for us, including the Maracanã.

Q: Security is always a big concern when it comes to major sporting events, especially in light of recent events such as the Boston Marathon bombing and stadium violence in England, Greece, Germany and Brazil. What security measures do you take to make sure the World Cup will be safe and enjoyable for fans, officials and players?
Trade: We are working together with the federal government on security, and we are very confident that they are making the adequate plans. I’m in discussion with them on a daily basis. We have the public security forces that are taking care of the surroundings of the stadiums. The defense ministry will take care of counter-terrorism and so on. We also will have stewards inside the stadium, which is a new concept for Brazil. I know around the world the majority of countries don’t use public security for inside the stadium but use stewards instead. The concept is good and we could use it for our country later on as well. And, of course, we will have public security teams inside the stadiums in case of an emergency. We are very confident when it comes to security because the federal government gave FIFA a guarantee five years ago that they will take care of it. The experiences we have had with huge events such as Carnival in Rio, Pan American Games, [Rio+20 Conference], were all successful and we had no security issues at all, which is very important.

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius "will not take part in this summer’s London Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium" because of fears his appearance would turn the event into a “media circus.” UK Athletics Chair Ed Warner said, "I don’t want to see the Sunday of the Anniversary Games turning into a media circus" (London EVENING STANDARD, 4/16). ... The Athletics Federation of India has "zeroed in on Delhi as the venue of the 20th Asian athletics championships" to be held from July 3-7. An official announcement "is likely to be made in this regard within the next couple of days" (THE HINDU, 4/15). ... The Soweto Marathon in Johannesburg, South Africa is "set to get a major revamp with the formation of a trust to run its day-to-day affairs." The repositioning of the 42.2K event "will also see the introduction of internationally competitive cash prizes to lure the world's best runners to the premier event" (SOWETAN LIVE, 4/16).