World Cup rush leaves gaps in Brazil cell network

April 23, 2014

Brad Haynes & Luciana Bruno – Reuters, 4/23/2014

Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracanã stadium was in a frenzy. Brazil had trounced the Spanish world champions. Yet 73,000 soccer fans could scarcely send a text message to celebrate.

The final of the 2013 Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for this year’s World Cup, was a promising 3-0 victory for Brazil’s national team but a bad omen for its cellphone network.

Despite costly investments and another year to prepare, phone companies are still struggling to provide adequate coverage of key sites for the tournament starting in June.

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World Cup’s road to Brazil remains bumpy

April 23, 2014

Vincent Bevins & Kevin Baxter – The Los Angeles Times, 4/22/2014

In 50 days the best athletes in the world’s most popular sport will convene in Brazil, one of soccer’s sacred spiritual homes, for the game’s most important tournament.

It will be a powerful, uplifting tribute to the “beautiful game” that Brazilians have shaped for decades and the new status of a confident, rising global power in Latin America. Locals and foreigners will marvel at shiny new stadiums and glide across the continent-sized country on upgraded infrastructure.

That, at least, is what the government and organizers are hoping will happen given that the price tag for their six-week World Cup party is expected to top $11 billion, a figure local media estimates say is extremely conservative.


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Brazil: a role model for development?

April 17, 2014

Armando Barrientos & Ed Amann – The Guardian, 4/17/2014

Brazil isn’t getting the best press at the moment, with ongoing problems with the construction of the World Cup stadiums and protests about public services. Recently economic growth in the country has slowed, with some commentators arguing the recent government response sounds “the death knell for Brazil’s economic strategy“.

It’s remarkable how far and fast Brazil has fallen from grace. Only a couple of years ago, the IMF and others were lauding the country for its resilience to the global financial crisis and its sound economic management.

We need to get this into perspective, because behind the hyperbole, there’s much for other developing countries to learn from Brazil’s recent experiences. Countries such as Zambia, which has seen positive growth rates that haven’t translated into poverty reduction, or Nigeria, which has seen inequality dramatically widen over the past 20 years.

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Rio’s BRT Transcarioca running 46% over budget

April 15, 2014

Claire Rivé – The Rio Times, 4/8/2014

 Delays and design changes on the Transcarioca Highway connecting Galeão International Airport to Barra da Tijuca have led to the project running 46 percent over budget. The initial cost of the Transcarioca was estimated at R$1.3 billion, but after numerous delays, expenditure now stands at R$1.9 billion according to officials.

The inflated figure does not include an additional R$200 million spent on the expropriation of property required around the work site during construction between 2010 and 2013.

One of the main factors contributing to the increased cost of theTranscarioca project was the redesign of the cable-stayed bridge connecting the airport to the highway. The selection of the project’s design was based on the conceptual functionality of the proposals and the winning bid included a 120 meter mast in the center of the bridge.

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In Brazil, usual Olympics worry with unusual validity

April 14, 2014

Christopher Clarey – The New York Times, 4/11/2014

The smash-hit London Olympics were nearing a close in August 2012, and I found myself in an elevator at the main news media center with a small delegation of observers from the next Summer Games, in Rio de Janeiro.

They looked and sounded worried. One of them said, “I really hope that everyone does not expect Rio to be better than this.”

In truth, almost everyone does not. Neither Brazil nor any of its neighbors have staged an Olympics, and it was clear that Rio, despite its high profile and abundant charms, was going to face organizational challenges of a higher magnitude. The trade-off, however, seemed worth it to bring the Games to new territory.

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Grand visions fizzle in Brazil

April 14, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 4/12/2014

Brazil plowed billions of dollars into building a railroad across arid backlands, only for the long-delayed project to fall prey to metal scavengers. Curvaceous new public buildings designed by the famed architect Oscar Niemeyer were abandoned right after being constructed. There was even an ill-fated U.F.O. museum built with federal funds. Its skeletal remains now sit like a lost ship among the weeds.

As Brazil sprints to get ready for the World Cup in June, it has run up against a catalog of delays, some caused by deadly construction accidents at stadiums, and cost overruns. It is building bus and rail systems for spectators that will not be finished until long after the games are done.

But the World Cup projects are just a part of a bigger national problem casting a pall over Brazil’s grand ambitions: an array of lavish projects conceived when economic growth was surging that now stand abandoned, stalled or wildly over budget.

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Olympic committee says no talk of taking Games away from Brazil due to Rio 2016 construction delays, yet

April 10, 2014

CBS News, 4/10/2014

With sports federations demanding a “Plan B” because of the chronic delays in Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday it was “premature” to speculate about taking the 2016 Games away from Brazil.

IOC President Thomas Bach and other Olympic officials said the construction holdups and political paralysis have reached a critical point, requiring the IOC to take special measures to save the games.

“It is about time for action,” Bach said following an unprecedented public outpouring of criticism and complaints from international sports leaders about the lack of progress in Rio.

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Brazil election jitters may hit investment in 2014

April 9, 2014

Alonso Soto & Luciana Otoni – Reuters, 4/8/2014

Brazil’s presidential vote will likely delay some investment decisions this year but spending on infrastructure is expected to remain strong, a senior government official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Although President Dilma Rousseff is the favorite to win the October 5 general election, many investors could withhold funds until the next government outlines its plans for the following four years, which could hamper the country’s already slow economic growth.

“It is obvious that businesses will delay some investments until after the election to have more clarity,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to speak publicly.

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Sports chief: Brazil government must act on Rio

April 8, 2014

Stephen Wilson – AP, 4/8/2014

The head of Olympic summer sports federations called for urgent action Tuesday to tackle the critical delays facing the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and accused the Brazilian government of neglecting the crisis.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Francesco Ricci Bitti said Rio’s troubled preparations are reaching a stage where some sports may need to consider “Plan B” options for their venues.

“It’s getting very serious,” the Italian said. “We have an organizing committee with good people but without the leverage to cope with the problem. … We are scared. This is not a country like China where you can ask people to work by night. In Brazil, this could not happen. The government has to change speed.”

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Work resumes in part of Brazil World Cup stadium

April 8, 2014

Tales Azzoni – AP, 4/8/2014

Construction can resume in part of the stadium where a worker died while installing temporary seats for the World Cup opener, Brazilian labor officials said Monday.

Work had been partially stopped at the Itaquerao stadium because of safety concerns following the man’s death on March 29.

Officials from the Labor Ministry inspected the venue on Monday and said most of the necessary safety measures had been implemented where the seats were being installed. Not all work at the stadium could resume, however, because construction crews had yet to install protective nets in another part of the site.

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