After what has been universally characterized as a tremendous success by London in organizing the Olympics, Rio de Janero and Brazil will have a tough act to follow. While London is generally a disciplined and orderly city, Rio, like many other large urban concentrations in developing countries, is somewhat chaotic and disorganized. The biggest challenge the Brazilians face is to somehow make logistics work during both the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. A large hotel deficit in Rio, combined with poor public transportation networks and phenomenal traffic congestion—especially in São Paulo—will present huge challenges to the authorities as they prepare for the influx of tens of thousands of athletes and spectators.
While there is still time to build the necessary new infrastructure, Brazil needs to accelerate
preparations and ensure that the airports, roads, transportation facilities and stadiums are ready. Neither FIFA nor the International Olympic Committee seem to be worried that things are not on schedule, but the risk remains that some of the major projects might not be in place by 2014. Security is also a concern, but more from the perspective of localized crime and violence, than from any terrorist threat. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro was in London twice during these past Olympics and was able to take advantage of watching the recently concluded Games to better understand the size and complexity of the events and how to adequately prepare for every contingency.
Having attended several of the events in London myself, I can’t underestimate the task ahead and Brazil’s challenges in preparing for their time in the sun.