Eric Farnsworth – The Miami Herald, 8/13/2015
Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, there they go again. As Brazil readies to host the 2016 Olympic Summer Games one year from now, international observers have begun the countdown clocks and a familiar litany of complaints that are aired out before virtually every major worldwide sporting event.
Venues that will not be ready to host events. Infrastructure that can never be completed on time if at all. Community redevelopment projects that will remain on the drawing board. Security concerns and police over reaction. Cost overruns, debt accumulation, and corruption. Environmental clean-up and pollution control measures that are failing, endangering the health of athletes and spectators alike.
Hosting the Olympic Summer Games is not for the faint-hearted. It is a massive, risky, hugely expensive undertaking with increasingly questioned benefits. For approximately two weeks, cities and the nations they represent draw the eyes of the world, bringing the attention and anticipated revenue they might otherwise not have other opportunities to attract.
Makiko Kitamura and Natasha Khan – Bloomberg, 7/1/2014
When he announced he was going to Brazil for the World Cup, Andy Quinn was warned by friends and a travel agent to lather on mosquito repellent to avoid potentially fatal dengue fever.
Some of the mosquitoes he saw “were like aliens — I’ve never seen them that big before,” said the 32-year-old Londoner, who attended three games in Brazil before his England team was sent packing. Brazil’s stepped up spraying of insecticides didn’t seem to help matters.
The country may soon have a more powerful weapon to use before it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics: genetically modified mosquitoes that self-destruct before doing any damage.
Eva Hershaw – CS Monitor, 6/30/2014
The doomsday predictions that swirled in the leadup to Brazil hosting the World Cup now seem overstated, nearly three weeks into the global soccer tournament.
Instead of protests, chaos, and violence, this South American nation has erupted in a joyous tide of green, yellow, and blue after a series of dramatic home wins.
The World Cup is largely considered a barometer for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. For authorities, its early success has come as a welcome relief. “I knew that once the ball started rolling, Brazilians would be rooting for Brazil,” says retired military Gen. Fernando Azevedo e Silva, president of the Public Olympic Authority (APO), one of three Brazilian bodies tasked with coordinating the Olympic Games.
The Financial Times, 5/4/2014
Poor Dilma Rousseff. Brazil’s president projects the tedious aura of the efficiency of Angela Merkel, except with the delivery of the Marx brothers. Late preparations for the World Cup have already embarrassed the country, while those for the 2016 Olympic Games are “the worst” the international committee has ever seen. The economy is also in a slump. Brazil, once a market darling, has fallen out of investor favour. The country needs a credibility shock. If Ms Rousseff does not deliver it, October’s presidential elections will.
Her government faces three immediate challenges. The first is a corruption scandal at Petrobras. In 2006 the state-controlled oil company paid a total $1.3bn for a Texas refinery that had been bought by its seller for only $42.5m a year before. As Ms Rousseff was then chairwoman of Petrobras, the deal damages her supposed reputation as a savvy manager, competent to run the country.
The second is the growing risk of energy shortages. Brazil’s power grid essentially runs on hydropower, with more expensive fuel-fired turbines as back-up. The trouble is that a prolonged drought has drained many of Brazil’s reservoirs, even as government subsidised electricity has increased consumption. As a result, the grid is working at full capacity, but only thanks to the more expensive generators. Blackouts are a real risk. As Ms Rousseff is a former minister of energy, this further damages her image as a technocrat.
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.
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.”
Roger Blitz – The Financial Times, 3/20/2014
Brazil should have been better prepared for this year’s World Cup and has also been too slow in getting ready for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the country’s sports minister has admitted.
The frank admission from Aldo Rebelo marks a shift in tone from the Brazilian government from its consistently defiant message that it was on top of the task of hosting the world’s next two biggest sporting events.
Asked in an FT interview what Brazil would have done differently when it was awarded the World Cup seven years ago, Mr Rebelo said: “We would have taken better advantage of the time because the decisions would not be different.
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 2/28/2014
IN his fits of rage, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, has thrown a stapler at one aide. He threw an ashtray at another. He berated a councilwoman in her chambers, calling her a tramp. Stunning diners at a crowded Japanese restaurant where he was being taunted by one constituent, a singer in a rock band, he punched the man in the face.
While Mr. Paes, 44, has apologized to the targets of his wrath after each episode, he adds that he is under a lot of stress. Normally clocking 15-hour days as he tears up and rebuilds parts of Rio in the most far-reaching overhaul of the city in decades, Mr. Paes is finding that consensus over his plans is elusive.
“Don’t ever in your life do a World Cup and the Olympic Games at the same time,” Mr. Paes recently said at a debate here on Rio’s transformation, making at a stab at gallows humor over the street protests that have seized the city over the past year. “This will make your life almost impossible.”
Daniel Altman – Foreign Policy, 2/25/2014
Less than four months from now, billions of people around the world will focus on Brazil as the World Cup kicks off in São Paulo. But some Brazilians are looking forward with as much trepidation as pride, and not just because of their soccer team’s form in recent tournaments. Under the spotlight, their economy may be revealed as much less than meets the eye.
It’s easy to beat up on Brazil these days. Its currency, the real, has lost more than 15 percent of its value in the past year, as has São Paulo’s stock market, and preparations for the World Cup are not exactly on schedule. But just a few years ago, as the world reeled from economic downturns in Europe and the United States, Brazil was the darling of the financial markets. What happened?
In the years leading up to the financial crisis, Brazil had become an attractive option for investors seeking to balance their portfolios. Stock markets in Europe, the United States, and other established economies track each other so closely as to be almost identical. For example, the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange had a correlation of 0.95 with the Standard and Poor’s 500 index on a month-to-month basis between January 2005 and August 2008. By contrast, the correlation between Brazil’s Bovespa stock market index and the S&P 500 was only 0.73. For investors who wanted to insure themselves against dips in the big markets, some of Brazil’s stocks were a reasonable option.