Room 101

With just two years to go until Brazil hosts the World Cup, the country’s infrastructure improvements are running behind schedule. Twas ever thus; indeed the surprise is, that a schedule even existed. The assumption, based on the erratic progress over the past few years was of an ad hoc approach, punctuated by increasingly tense meetings with FIFA officials anxious about the slow rate of progress.

Brazil plans to spend $13 billion on 101 projects to build or modernize stadiums, and improve public infrastructure ahead of the 2014 finals, but work has begun on only 60 of them, the government has confirmed.

“We are not working on the possibility or the assumption of a delay. We have an eye on the current state of the projects and another on their completion,” said Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, whose laid back approach makes him sound like a calm head in a crisis, though possibly not the person best equipped to deliver a successful World Cup in two years time. We shall see.

“The projects are on schedule. We expect the Confederations Cup will take place in the six planned arenas.”

The concern, though, is not the stadiums but the practicalities of transporting millions of visitors around the vast country.

As of April, only 28 of the 51 planned transport projects had begun. Bidding for seven others is under way and concessions for nine are in the process of being awarded.

Work has begun on only 13 of the 31 planned projects to upgrade airports.

Again, though, Rebelo remains sanguine about the situation.

“The government is optimistic and confident about overcoming all the challenges,” he said.

Crisis, what crisis?