By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the renovation works now fully underway on Rio de Janeiro’s world famous Maracanã stadium, the question of accessibility is the next issue on the city’s 2014 World Cup preparation agenda.
Brazil’s Organizational Committee (OC) has stated that the World Cup needs to be a fantastic spectator experience for all fans, including the disabled, elderly and those “whose movement is restricted by injury.”
The OC has already opened discussions with the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (PCB) with the intention of establishing a number of targets to achieve this goal.
“We can help educate the country and create, via the World Cup, a culture of accessibility and an architectural concept that takes this issue into consideration,” said Andrew Parsons, president of the PCB.
With the only raised seats with a privileged view residing in the currently under construction grandstand, it is presumed this is where accessibility will be granted for football (soccer) fans who find mobility and watching matches a challenge.
In addition, FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed praise that Brazil’s OC is willing to tackle issues previously left neglected during other World Cup tournaments. The desire to break new ground highlights the determination in Brazil to host a progressive tournament.
“Never before has there been so much cooperation between a host nation’s Organizational Committee and that country’s Paralympic Committee,” Parsons explained.
“We feel flattered they have come to us. It’s a crucial time because we are discussing the laying down of technical rules concerning accessibility for sporting events in Brazil. This affects a very large section of the population, which is made up of the physically handicapped, the elderly, the obese and those recovering from injuries. These people are consumers and their rights as citizens are being respected,” he said.
On the Olympics front, the previous president of Embratur (the Brazilian Tourism Institute) Jeanine Pires, has since August lead a new government organization called “Brasil 2016” that will co-ordinate the various infrastructure projects associated with the Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
Pires described Rio as “a land of joy, sports and business,” and is looking forward to the challenge ahead. “We are very happy and confident and aware of the responsibility we have, not only to run the big events, but also to continue Brazil’s growth,” she said.
The 2016 Olympic Games will see the competition held in South America for the first time and Brazil, especially Rio de Janeiro, is expected to see a huge economic boost, combined with the added revenue from hosting the World Cup two years earlier.
“These sporting events will help us accelerate programs we are trying to introduce,” Pires added. A survey conducted last week in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, revealed that the investment of US$6.5 billion in the Olympic Games alone will generate more than four times that amount between now and 2027.