• Porto Maravilha — Some $4 billion in investments are slated to begin to transform the gritty downtown port into a showcase that will include shops, restaurants, renovated historic buildings, hotels and The Museum of Tomorrow, a project designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that is expected to stretch out into Guanabara Bay along the Píer Mauá.
• Airports — Brazil is in the process of granting concessions to private investors to renovate and manage key airports. The airport upgrades are pressing because they need to be ready for the World Cup, which will open on June 12, 2014. Sixty-four matches will be played in 12 cities. Currently many of Brazil’s airports are barely up to handling growing domestic traffic.
While Brazil begins the sprint toward finishing its massive infrastructure projects, Miami is preparing to benefit from both the Olympics and World Cup.
“Since we’re a crossroads destination, we’ll be able to cross-promote the World Cup and the Olympics with a visit to Miami,’’ said Bill Talbert, president and chief executive of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“This is good for our business — and without a doubt good for Miami,’’ said Art Torno, American Airlines’ vice president for Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America.
American currently serves seven Brazilian cities from Miami and by the end of the year will be offering 102 flights a week between Brazil and Miami, New York and Dallas, he said. Seventy-three of those flights will be to or from Miami.
American officials expect many U.S. sports fans to fly through Miami. “I think these Games will attract such a huge number of people, we’ll see travelers who haven’t been to Miami or Latin America. This will showcase Miami and that sets us up for future travel,’’ said Torno. “We’ll be the front door for travel to Brazil.’’
Brazil also will be devoting major efforts to preparing its athletes for 2016 and trying to break its soccer curse. Although Brazil has won a record five World Cup titles, it has never won Olympic gold in its national sport.
With 17 medals, including three gold, Brazil’s London performance was only marginally better than its 15-medal haul in Beijing, and Brazilian athletes made fewer finals (35) in 2012 than they did in 2008 (41).
To reach its goal of a Top 10 finish in 2016, Marcus Vinicius Freire, a former Olympic volleyball medalist and an executive on the Brazilian Olympic Committee, says Brazil will need 25 medals in sports where it traditionally has been strong — volleyball, soccer, swimming, sailing, judo, track, basketball, equestrian and taekwondo and five in other sports where it hasn’t previously excelled, such as gymnastics.
It took a step in that direction when Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti picked up Brazil’s first gymnastics gold ever with a win in the rings. But in general the Brazilian press was underwhelmed by Team Brazil in London.
Brazil tied for 14th place in the medal count with Spain and Hungary but eight of Hungary’s medals were gold.
Paes and other top officials brought the Olympic flag with them on their return trip from London. To get the Rio party started, the flag will be carried on a tour through the city on Wednesday.