With Russia winning in its bid to host the 2018 World Cup, all four Bric countries are now cemented on the sporting stage. From China hosting the Olympics in 2008, to Russia in 2018, there is a defined 10 years where these four countries are moving from being an global economic story to centre stage of global sport.
In between, we have will have had India’s commonwealth games in Delhi this year, and Brazil with the task of hosting the World Cup and Olympics just two years apart, in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
Fifa and the IOC have clearly grasped the developing world concept. Beijing beat three developed world cities to the Olympics back in 2001 (Toronto, Paris and Osaka – the other was Istanbul). Delhi was chosen over Hamilton, Canada. Brazil was the only bid for 2014, but Rio won the 2016 Olympics over Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago. Russia beat a trio of “old Europe” bids – the UK, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium.
So developing is in. Established is out. Throw South Africa 2010 and Qatar 2022 into the mix, and you have a clear indication of the way these sporting events are being allocated. London 2012 might be the last of its kind for a long time.
Going back to the four Brics, what can we expect? So far, the interesting thing is not the similarity, but the differences. China’s ruthlessly efficient Olympics in Beijing was in utter contrast to the chaos in the build up to Delhi, where the accommodation and infrastructure were barely adequate.
Brazil’s build up will be fascinating. Can a country hosting these two giant events so close find any meaningful overlap in the building work? A few airports and rail links aside, not really. A world cup needs 8 or so big (40,000 plus) stadiums dotted around the country. An Olympics needs to be based in one city, and cover (in Rio’s case), 28 sports.
A world cup hosts 704 (22*32) players. Rio’s Olympics needs to house around 12,500 athletes. The needs are quite different. This has only happened twice before: the World Cup in the US in 1994 and Olympics in Atlanta in 1996; and the Olympics in Mexico in 1968 with the football arriving two years later. The fully-blown modern version will be a very different challenge to those events. For the ’94 World Cup, the US had most of the infrastructure in terms of stadiums and airports already in place. Atlanta was a damp squib of an Olympics. In terms of competitors alone, Rio’s Olympics will be more than twice the size of Mexico City’s, with nearly 100 more countries taking part.
And so to Russia. Whether or not it is a mafia state, the rebuilding and logistics will be quite staggering. Then again, the Qatar has promised to build cooled stadiums to counter the 40-degree heat. At least they have the extra four years to get it right.