Rio mayor Eduardo Paes (Getty)

(ATR) Despite reports of the Maracana revamp lagging behind schedule, Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes tells INSIDER the project is “going fine”. But he admits the renovation of the airport is a concern.

“I think the World Cup is a communication problem. It is 12 cities. Rio is on time,” Paes told INSIDER.

“The problem is much more services than infrastructure. I think the problem of services will be ready by 2014.”

Critics have raised concerns over the slow pace of construction on the Maracana, which is now undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation, as well as upgrades to the airport and other transport infrastructure for the football finals.

The Maracana, originally built for the 1950 World Cup, is slated to stage the World Cup final, 2016 Olympic ceremonies and Olympic football final.

Paes, who this week welcomed an IOC delegation to inspect progress on the Rio 2016 Olympics, claims criticisms are overblown.

“Maracana is going fine. The World Cup is much much easier to do than an Olympic Games, at least from a city view,” he said.

“But I mean it’s a fact there are some delays because of different levels of government in the cities.”

FIFA is most concerned about ensuring the modernisation of airports across the Brazil are put back on track.

Paes admitted: “We have some problems with the airport but it will be ready on time. The problem with the airport is much more services than infrastructure.”

Last week, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff summoned all governors and mayors of 2014 host cities to discuss governmental work for the World Cup with herself and sports minister Orlando Silva. At the top of her plan is the sale of Brazil’s airports to private companies, a bid to accelerate work.

Commenting on the impact of sluggish World Cup preparations on work for the Olympics, Paes said: “In Rio things are fine I don’t see it as a problem concerning the Olympics.

“Actually I think it’s a big asset for the Olympics because the mistakes that were done in the planning of the World Cup are not being repeated in the Olympic Games. Its going to be perfect.”

Last week, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke claimed Brazil 2014 World Cup preparations were in good shape but revealed that world football’s governing body faced “many problems” in delivering projects in time for the tournament.

“We are working very well with the organising committee and Ricardo Teixeira,” Valcke told delegates at the FIFA Congress in Zurich today.

“We have the full support of the new president of the country [Dilma Rousseff] which gives us confidence in the many problems we have to face which are airports, accommodation and transportation.”

Work only began last week on Sao Paulo’s Itaquera stadium project in the east of the city. But it won’t be ready in time for the 2013 Confederations Cup, the major test event for the 2014 FIFA showpiece.

Sao Paulo still hopes to host the opening match of the 2014 tournament.

The Brazil 2014 World Cup preliminary draw takes place in Rio on July 30.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson and Ed Hula III

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