The celebrations in Brazil of the 1,000-day countdown to the 2014 World Cup is being marred by construction delays as striking workers and government foot-dragging hurt preparations for the soccer tournament.
To commemorate the milestone, President Dilma Rousseff and Brazilian soccer legend Pelé toured Friday the renovation work at Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte, one of 12 cities that will host matches during the soccer tournament.
While construction is under way at all stadiums hosting matches, arenas in São Paulo, Natal and Manaus are unlikely to be ready in time for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, a dry run for the World Cup.
Dozens of road and public transportation projects that the government has touted as the biggest legacy of the tournament are still on the drawing boards four years after Brazil was awarded the tournament by Zurich-based FIFA.
Among the delayed projects, ground has yet to be broken on 5 of 13 airports that are slated for 6.5 billion reais (US$ 3.8 billion) in expansions to handle an expected surge in foreign visitors, Sports Minister Orlando Silva said this week. Contracts for more than two dozen transportation projects have yet to be awarded.
In Rio de Janeiro, which will also host the 2016 Summer Olympics, the renovation of Maracanã stadium has been suspended for more than two weeks as workers strike to demand higher wages.
Work stoppages have also taken place in Belo Horizonte and Salvador, as construction workers throughout Brazil seek to keep pace with the fastest inflation in six years.
The government’s plan to speed up progress has also run into legal problems. Prosecutor General Roberto Gurgel said this month he’ll challenge before the Supreme Court a FIFA-backed law that streamlines the bidding process for projects related to the World Cup and Olympics.
The law, passed by Brazil’s Congress in July, lacks sufficient guarantees that government funds won’t be misspent, according to Gurgel.