Focus now shifting to 2016 Rio Olympics

Brazil sighed a relief after hosting a successful football World Cup. Now, the attention is on preparation for Rio 2016.


    When Brazil looks back at the World Cup, all that may flash before their eyes is that scoreline: 7-1. 

    The humiliation, the failure, possibly the worst Brazil team in history.

    Mario Andrada is just as hurt as any proud Brazilian. But for him, this World Cup was so much more than who won and lost on the field. What was vital was that the tournament itself was a success. The communications chief is a key figure in the Rio 2016 Olympics organisation, and the incredible entertainment of the World Cup has taken some of the negativity towards his own team's preparations.

    "We learned that once the games begun, once the ball start rolling, the moods changed,” Andrada told Al Jazeera. “Sports, good sports, technical sports and great athletes inspire the public. They much rather hear about Neymar, Muller and Messi, than to hear the games are costing more and the work is behind schedule.”

    Rio's struggles

    It's no secret that Rio has struggled to meet deadlines. In April, the International Olympic Committee Vice-President John Coates said the preparations were "the worst” he's even seen, “including Athens". It's an assessment that angered Andrada and his team.

    "At that time, we were upset. Now we can take this as an energy booster. If nobody believes in you, you go there and do it. It is the wrong perception to imagine that Brazilians work better with a kick in their behind. Brazilians work better when they find support and when they find cooperation and partnership. Once FIFA started working as partners of Brazil, the speed of work increased.”

    Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes was the figure who admitted taking on a World Cup and an Olympics within two years of each other was not ideal.

    "I am not a masochist," he said, "I don't advise this."

    Having welcomed me into Rio 2016's base, Andrada concedes my point that Brazil has bitten off a bit more than it can chew with a knowing sigh and puffing of the cheeks.

    "Ah, we would have enjoyed the World Cup a little better if it was further away from the Olympics. And we would have enjoyed the Olympics a bit more if we have had the time to relax after the World Cup. But we are not complaining. We are blessed to have these two events."

    Rio's expenses

    So complicated is the infrastructure and development of Brazil, hand-in-hand with state authorities and Government, that quoting exact costs is difficult. There’s a approximate figure of $17m mentioned for the Olympics, around five times what the World Cup stadiums cost. But the World Cup figure doesn't take into account the work on airports, roads, hotels, redevelopment of land and associated projects.

    It is hard to grasp just how major this is, just how expensive yet important to Brazil's future as an economic force. But some things are easier for us all to understand. Like the Famous Rio bay that needs cleaning. Olympic sailors that inspected the venue could only conclude it is like "an open sewer". Andrada has indicated the organisers don't think it's their problem alone.

    "It is a job so huge we cannot do it alone and neither can the government," he says. "So we are engaging the people for the big party but we are also engaging the people to the fact that we need help cleaning the bay. People need to stop throwing garbage, people need to put pressure on the government with us."

    But when the Games start, can Brazil generate that crucial x-factor for any major event? Home success. It's gold medals for a host nation that fires up an Olympic spirit, not just the 'honour of hosting'. Everyone knows a Brazilian will watch a football match, but Olympic events?

    Progress has been made since the last IOC warning, according to the officials [Getty Images]

    "We have our fair share of good athletes, we do very well in volleyball for instance. So we will have the support of the people. We don’t need medals to have the support of the people, although with the medals the people will be happier. What I think it is going to happened is that people will be proud to show to the world the Olympics we’ve prepared."

    Ready for it?

    And then there's the crucial L word: Legacy. The IOC still seem to place more importance than this for host nations than anything else. Andrada goes into detail about the transport system, hotels and tourism, and talks proudly about the sustainability, the care about which materials will be used with the environment to consider. He claims they will continue to ask people what they want from legacy, not impose it on them.

    What do you say, I ask finally, to those around the globe who say: 'Wonderful World Cup, but the Olympics won't be ready will they?' What's your message to them?

    "We are going to be ready,” he added. “We are going to be waiting for everybody, we are going to offer excellent games, and memorable celebrations. We know how to do it. Everyone was happy in the World Cup, so come back here and everyone will be even happier at the Olympics.”

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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