Brazil: The Olympic Challenge
The London 2012 Olympic Games have definitely been a huge success and have managed to lift the spirits of the city and the nation. For seven years the city laboured amid concerns over transport and infrastructure, yet ended up delivering Games the IOC president Jacques Rogge only just stopped short of describing as the greatest ever.
Now that the curtain has fallen on the London Olympics, all eyes are turning to the next host city: Rio de Janeiro. Brazil has a huge task in preparing the venues and the pressure is now on to convince the world that Rio will be ready for 2016.
Given that the city has a population of more than 6 million spread across a wide area, Rio’s two underground railway lines are clearly insufficient, but the Olympics represent a golden opportunity to invest in infrastructure. Brazil’s vice minister for sport, Luis Fernandes, said in a press conference in London the day after the 2012 Games ended: “The Olympics are an opportunity to invest huge funds in infrastructure, an amount that would normally take 15 or 20 years to invest”. Brazil’s organisers were in London throughout the Games to observe how they were run and see what lessons could be learned. Fernandes believes “the UK has done an absolutely fantastic job in organising a very complex endeavour … At the same time there were some problems, and it is very important that we learn from them.”
Brazil is planning to spend a total £8.9bn of public funds on the World Cup and a further £7.3bn on the Olympics. The core focus in both cases is the infrastructure legacy, which includes everything from stadia to road, rail and airport infrastructure. Rio 2016 has already acquired the tag-line “A city leaps forward”. According to the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, “Brazil still has a long way to go, Rio still has a long way to go, but it is going to be a more equal, more just, more integrated city after the Games”.
The Olympics are an opportunity to invest huge funds in infrastructure, an amount that would normally take 15 or 20 years to invest
The Games will be held in four zones across the city. The plans include the extension of a metro line to the western district of Barra da Tijuca, and four express lanes for buses and cars are also under construction. With the Olympic clock ticking, Rio does not have the time or money to build an extensive new metro system, so instead the city has bought a fleet of new buses which will travel in 150km of exclusive lanes, inaccessible to cars. Set to open in time for the World Cup, these lanes should cut journey times by more than three-quarters and also provide a better link between Rio’s main airport and the city centre.
However, with all these ambitions and plans in place, the question still remains: will they be completed in time? Opinions are mixed. Organisers say construction is running on time and that they are “delivering on our promises” to transform the city and transport network. However, some of the most important parts of the network are not scheduled to be ready until just months before the Games begin. Even Brazilian football legend Pelé seems to have cast doubts regarding his country’s readiness to host these sporting mega-events.
Regardless of the construction schedules the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games certainly represent a massive opportunity for UK companies in all related sectors, especially infrastructure. AECOM, the creators of the London Olympic Park, won Brazil’s first international architecture competition to design the Rio 2016 Olympic Park. British companies of any size that are interested in Rio 2016-related contracts should keep a close eye on the website www.rio2016.org/en, where tenders will be published. After having delivered such an impressive Olympics here, the door is definitely open for UK suppliers to contribute to what will hopefully be equally successful Games in Brazil.
Article taken from Brazil Business Brief Sept 2012
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