POSTED: July 5th 2011

JOHN GOODBODY: Brazil finding out all about the cost of doubling up

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

LONDON, Jul 05: It has been one of the triumphant consequences of London being chosen to host the 2012 Olympics that so far there has been few worries about the building of the facilities and infrastructure for the Games.

The venues have been erected on time and on budget, rather to many people’s surprise, and  it is to the credit of the Olympic Delivery Authority that this has occurred so smoothly.

One recalls the entertaining cartoon on the front page of a national newspaper the day after London got the Games with a building worker, wearing a hard hat, saying into a mobile phone: "Lord Coe, can we make that 2013 ?”

Previous Olympics had certainly had problems getting the venues ready in time, none more so than Athens, whose organising committee to its credit did laugh at itself by having two men with shovels emerge before the start of the opening ceremony in 2004 and pretend to put the finishing touches to the main stadium.

The Olympics are such a monumental undertaking that not a day can be lost by the host city and the problems are increased if that country is also hosting the FIFA World Cup, either immediately before or after the Games.

Mexico certainly did it in 1968 and 1970, as West Germany did in 1972 and 1974 but neither event was quite as large in its scope in those days as it is in the 21st century.

It is true that, in a way, hosting the two biggest sports events on the planet so close together can be helpful for a country because it gives even greater impetus to the need to transform much of the civic infrastructure while officials can use the experience from the first one to help in their preparations for the second.

Still, the strain on any country is immense, as Brazil is already finding.

Successful country

It is absolutely right and proper that Brazil should be hosting the 2014 World Cup, given that the most successful country in the quadrennial tournament has not staged the competition since 1950. It is also right and proper that Rio de Janeiro should host the 2016 Olympics, since no South, as opposed to Central,  American city has held the Games.

When the IOC Co-ordination Committee visited Rio last month, it seemed content with the progress, particularly the sponsorship agreements, which already have brought in about £400m, probably only about £350m short of the city’s target (and with still five years still to go) and also the quality of the team organising the event as well as the wholehearted support of the government.

However, a subsequent report for UK Trade and Industry said Rio was farther behind than London at the same period out from the Games, while Jerome Valcke, the FIFA  secretary-general, said Brazil had a great deal to do to finish the stadia and infrastructure for 2014.

He was speaking in Russia, hosts of the 2018 tournament, with a clear warning that Russia should look at how South Africa staged the 2010 tournament rather than how Brazil was currently coping.

No alarm bells are yet ringing, nor should they. However, Brazil is using both events to demonstrate just what a dynamic and successful country it is. There must be no delays or slip-ups over the next five years if Brazil is to avoid any embarrassment in this ambition.

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2008 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 11th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001

Keywords · Goodbody · Brazil · IOC · FIFA

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