Brazil has just announced investments equivalent to US$ 3.2 billion to upgrade airports in anticipation of the 2014 World Soccer Cup and then the 2016 Olympics, one of the most sensitive issues for the massive infrastructure needed to handle millions of foreign visitors.
Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made the official announcement at the same time he signed a decree elevating the debt cap of the 12 cities that will be hosting the World Cup.
The move was seen as a strong reply to recent comments from FIFA that the organization of the 2014 World Cup awarded to Brazil almost three years ago was behind schedule.
“Someone a few days ago said that we had lost two years and eight months since the Cup’s organization was awarded to Brazil, and that we haven’t done a thing since then,” said Lula.
FIFA Executive Secretary Jerome Valcke recently warned about the delay in infrastructure works for the Cup, particularly the overcrowded Brazilian airports.
Lula last week said that “it seems some people believe that those organizing the 2014 Cup in Brazil are a bunch of idiots”, adding that “ignorance sometimes makes people forget that there’s a forced bureaucratic ritual” for the liberation of funds to begin the works.
The funds announced will be invested in the airports of Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo, the twelve cities that have been selected for the Cup.
The largest share is destined to the São Paulo Guarulhos airport (US$ 680 million) while the least is earmarked for Recife in the Northeast, with US$ 11 million.
Rio do Janeiro’s Galeão airport will be receiving US$ 390 million since the city will also be hosting the Olympic Games in 2016.
The Brazilian government anticipates the upgrading should be finalized between June 2013 and April 2014, on time for the World Cup and the millions of tourists expected.
The ceremony was held at the Brazilian Foreign Affairs ministry with the attendance of Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation and the head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee Carlos Nuzman.