After the bad publicity that the 2014 Sochi Olympics received in regards to not being ready for the world to come to Sochi and the trending #sochiproblems, one might think that all future major event locations would do their best to make sure that projects are completed on time to save themselves from similar embarrassment. However that does not seem to be the case. With the upcoming FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics taking place in Brazil, both events have a lot of work that still needs to be done, some of which I saw first hand on a site visit to Brazil in early April.
With the FIFA Wold Cup rapidly approaching there is concern over stadiums being completed in time, and if they are completed in time, then the proper safety checks are done. According to one report, “7% of the tickets for the World Cup are being kept back” due to the fact that they fear seats in some stadiums won’t be ready. And it’s not only stadiums that are of concern, it’s airports as well. During a recent trip to Brazil in early April, construction was still being done at the BSB Airport in Brasilia to increase the number of access points for planes and the next stage is to add an additional terminal. With all the construction going on at the airport it’s hard to imagine how they will be able to handle all the game-goers that will be arriving to see the 4 first round games that will take place in Brasilia, including a game that the Brazilian team is in.
While the World Cup is a major concern as it is just around the corner, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has a lot more people concerned and worried about the projects being completed in time. In mid-April, the IOC visited Rio de Janeiro to see the progress that has been made and “The International Olympic Committee’s vice president, John D. Coates, said Brazil’s preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games were ‘the worst’ he has ever experienced.” While in Rio, we toured the area to see where each of the events would be taking place to see where they were in relation to the hotels we were siting. When we went to the area where the Olympic Park is to be built we found nothing done and the workers were once again on strike. After the IOC visit, the Rio Mayor, Eduardo Paes, has stated that the stadiums will be completed on time and is quoted as saying “Probably these federations will keep complaining about me until the day the Olympics start, because sometimes they want us to do things that are too large. They are making demands about the stadiums, but I will not accept them." Some of the demands are for much larger stadiums than would be necessary and would not be beneficial for future years. After Sochi, this could be consider a rational fight by the Mayor, especially after Sochi where many are wondering if everything that was built for the Olympics will really be used fully, especially the new hotels that were built in Krasnaya Polyana.
When you know that you’re going to be hosting a major event 7 years ahead of time, you wonder why one would wait until being so close to those dates to start construction on such large projects. Time will only tell if these projects will be done on time and pass safety regulations. Hopefully future major event sites will take these concerns into account when they are doing their planning.