A little over two years before the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, nearly 40 percent of projects are yet to start, the government said Wednesday, insisting there was no cause for alarm.
Brazil plans to spend $13 billion on 101 projects to build or modernize stadiums, airports, roads and public transport ahead of the World Cup, but work has begun on only 60 of them, the government said.
Football's governing body FIFA has for months complained about delays, but Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo insisted preparations for the first World Cup in the soccer-mad country since 1950 remain on track.
"We are not working on the possibility or the assumption of a delay. We have an eye on the current state of the projects and another on their completion," said Rebelo, flanked by Planning Minister Miriam Belchior and Cities Minister Aguinaldo Ribero.
Six of the 12 stadiums that are to host World Cup matches will be ready in time for the 2013 Confederations Cup, the government said.
"The projects are on schedule," said Rebelo. "We expect the Confederations Cup will take place in the six planned arenas."
The Confederations Cup, seen as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup, will be held from June 15 to 30 next year in four confirmed cities: Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza. Recife and Salvador could be added at a later stage depending on how work progresses.
The expansion and renovation of stadiums in the southern cities of Curitiba and Porto Alegre is less advanced than in other host cities.
Of particular concern is the mass transit system, particularly access to the host arenas for the millions of tourists who plan to attend the event, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics.
As of April, only 28 of the 51 planned transport projects had begun. Bidding for seven others is under way and concessions for nine are in the process of being awarded.
Work has begun on only 13 of the 31 planned projects to upgrade airports.
"The government is optimistic and confident about overcoming all the challenges," Rebelo said.