Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians have marched through the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia in recent weeks in protest over many and varied economic issues, not least the costs of staging the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics Games.
Demonstrations kicked off in June after the authorities increased prices on public transport. This was the catalyst for people to start questioning whether the money invested in the World Cup and Olmpics would be better spent on health and education, as well as keeping down every day costs of living.
Images of angry demonstrators have been broadcast worldwide and the sheer scale of protest has jarred with the BRICs’ hitherto benign image of economic prosperity. This was not the global public relations spotlight that Brazil’s national and municpal authorities envisaged when they pitched to host these events.
Yet local politicians’ enthusiasm for both events remains undimmed. “The benefits are not just in tourism and business, but reach all the way through society,’ said Sao Paulo’s deputy mayor Nadia CAmeao. ‘They create jobs, which are young people need, and reach all the working population.”
Campeao was speaking at the New Cities Summit in Sao Paulo in June. But her comments could have been uttered by any politician from any host city – more so, perhaps for the Olympics than the World Cup – from Sydney 2000 onwards. The only saving grace for Brazil is that the harsh global spotlight is starting to fall on the Black Sea resort of Sochi where development for the 2014 Winter Olympics has been beset with delays and a runaway budget of €37.5bn – almost four times the cost of London 2012.
There is inevitably a “jam tomorrow” aspect to the political rhethoric in the years between winning the bid to stage an Olympics and the event itself. Inevitably, too, critics latch on to the fear of repeating Athens 2004, whose stadia remained unused after the event and the widespread acknowledgement that the Games played a part in the Greece’s economic decline. The International Olympic Committee has at least ensured that legacy issues are part of its judging process now.
To read the rest of this segment, please check out the July issue of EuroProperty Trends in association with Estates Gazette.
Image credit : Photobank gallery