Researchers weigh risks of Zika spreading at Rio Olympics

Simon Romero, Rebecca R. Ruiz – New York Times, 01/28/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — With about 500,000 people expected to visit Brazil for the Olympics here this year, researchers are scrambling to figure how much of a risk the Games might pose in spreading the Zika virus around the world.

Infectious disease specialists are particularly focused on the potential for Zika to spread to the United States. As many as 200,000 Americans are expected to travel to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics in August. When they return to the Northern Hemisphere and its summer heat, far more mosquitoes will be around to potentially transmit the virus in the United States.

Brazilian researchers say they believe that Zika, which has been linked to severe birth defects, came to their country during another major sports event — the 2014 World Cup — when hundreds of thousands of visitors flowed into Brazil. Virus trackers here say that the strain raging in Brazil probably came from Polynesia, where an outbreak was rattling small islands around the Pacific.

Read more…

A year later, Brazil’s FIFA World Cup infrastructure still not built

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 06/07/2015

The FIFA World Cup. It promises developing nations status, stadiums with wi-fi and cup holders, roads, bridges and new airport terminals. And let’s not forget, sponsorship parties! But I digress…

Last year’s FIFA World Cup left Brazilians crying in disbelief as their national team took looked like the Muppets on the field with the Germans. The consolation prize at least was all this new development that was promised when FIFA awarded the country with the soccer championship back in October 2007. Shiny trains. More efficient airports. Less traffic in Sao Paulo. FIFA might be worth it after all.

But an investigative report Sunday by Folha de Sao Paulonewspaper shows that R$11 billion ($3.5 billion) worth of 35 projects budgeted  in 2010 are not complete and a handful of simply been abandoned. A year after the World Cup, Brazil’s FIFA projects for public transportation and airport terminal extensions at places like Guarulhos International (GRU) in Sao Paulo and Afonso Pena International (CWB) in Curitiba are incomplete.

Read more…

Brazil president urges broad investigation after FIFA probe

IBN Live – 5/28/2015

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff called on Wednesday for a comprehensive investigation of wrongdoing in soccer after U.S. and Swiss authorities announced separate inquiries into the activities of the game’s powerful governing body, FIFA.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to Mexico City, Rousseff said she believed the probes, which embroiled a senior Brazilian soccer figure, would help Brazil, and she urged authorities to look into all tournaments and soccer activities.

Among those detained was Jose Maria Marin, former head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

Read more…

Sepp Blatter says FIFA must police itself

Sam Borden, Andrew Das, Dan Bilefsky – The New York Times, 5/28/2015

Sepp Blatter, the president of world soccer’s governing body, acknowledged the “unprecedented and difficult times” for his organization on Thursday and said it must do a better job of policing itself, but he largely avoided taking responsibility for the actions of “a tiny minority” arrested in a corruption inquiry this week.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the annual congress of the members of FIFA, the governing body, Mr. Blatter initially struck a somber tone after the arrest of several top soccer officials during a dawn raid at a luxury hotel here on Wednesday. Mr. Blatter, who was not directly implicated in the indictment from the United States Department of Justice (which is seeking extradition of the executives detained on their request) or a separate investigation announced by Swiss authorities, said he knew that many soccer observers “hold me ultimately responsible for the actions and reputation of the global football community, whether it’s the destination of the hosting of a World Cup or a corruption scandal.”

Read more…

FIFA is giving Brazil $100 million after the country spent $15 billion on the World Cup

Stephen Wade – AP/Business Insider, 01/20/2015

Football’s world governing body FIFA said Tuesday it had set up a $100 million World Cup Legacy Fund for Brazil, aimed at sports facilities, youth and women’s football, and medical and health projects.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter pledged two years ago to give some of the revenue from the 2014 World Cup back to grassroots programs in the South American country, which spent about $15 billion organizing last year’s World Cup.

Spending on the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics is expected to top $15 billion.

Read more…

Brazil trying to make good use of new stadiums

Tales Azzoni – AP/, 12/21/2014

It’s white elephant time for World Cup stadiums — again.

When the World Cup ended, Brazil was left with a sense of pride after successfully hosting soccer’s showcase tournament. It was also left with 12 modern facilities that officials said would help revitalize the sport in the country.

Now, Brazil’s brand new arenas are having to host weddings, children’s parties and religious events to generate revenue.

Brazil World Cup stadiums languish, adding insult to injury for some

James Young – Al Jazeera America, 12/17/2014

Marinalva Ferreira da Silva has more reason than most to resent Recife’s hulking Arena Pernambuco, one of the stadiums constructed for last summer’s soccer World Cup. She said the demolition work that was carried out so the venue could be built tore the heart out of the neighborhood of Timbi, where she has lived since 1962.

“They knocked down half the street. Our house was spared by centimeters,” she said. “There used to be supermarkets, a bakery and a butcher’s shop, but now there’s nothing. And because there are fewer people around, it’s not safe. There’s more crime.”

Ferreira da Silva, an accountant, said authorities removed about 130 families to make way for construction. “They offered compensation, but in many cases people didn’t have the right documentation to claim it, even though they’d lived here for years, so they got nothing. The government said lots of the people who lived here were illegal invaders. But they weren’t. They paid their taxes like everybody else.”

Read more…