Brazil starts year without 6 of 12 World Cup stadiums ready
Six venues had been built for the Confederations Cup
One of six Brazilian World Cup stadiums that had to be completed before the end of 2013 was symbolically delivered on New Year's Eve, although it won't be fully ready until the end of the month.
Local World Cup organizers in the northeastern city of Natal lighted up the Arena das Dunas stadium for the first time on Tuesday to symbolize the venue's completion. The official inauguration, however, will only happen "probably" on Jan. 20, organizers said in a statement Wednesday.
Brazil starts the year without six of the 12 World Cup stadiums ready even though FIFA had set the end of 2013 as the final deadline. Six venues had been built for the Confederations Cup this year.
Football's governing body usually wants all venues ready at least six months before the tournament starts so local organizers can host enough test events.
Brazilian organizers announced during the World Cup draw in December that none of the remaining six venues were expected to be delivered by the FIFA deadline. Delays have included financial problems, workers safety issues and construction-site accidents.
Three construction workers died at stadiums late last year — one who fell from about 115 feet (35 metres) at the Arena Amazonia in the jungle city of Manaus, and two who were killed when a crane collapsed while hoisting a roofing structure at the stadium that will host the World Cup opener in Sao Paulo on June 12.
The Arena Amazonia is expected to be completed by the end of the month, but the stadium in Sao Paulo won't be ready until April.
The Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba, where organizers faced difficulties securing the needed financing for the stadium, is likely to be ready sometime in March or early April.
The Beira-Rio Stadium in the southern city of Porto Alegre is set to be completed in January and the Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba is expected to be delivered in February.