As we career relentlessly towards an autumnal landscape of changing colours and fresher temperatures, so finally our warm Olympic afterglow inevitably begins to cool.
The summer of 2012 will be forever remembered as a golden one. Great Britain was reborn; Bradley Wiggins and Andy Murray won on foreign soil and the Olympics helped restore national pride while a realisation dawned that actually, we’re pretty good at sport and hosting a party.
Attention now turns to Brazil, not only for the 2016 Olympics, but also football’s 2014 World Cup. The South American giant has experienced phenomenal, if occasionally sporadic, economic performance over the past few years, its economy growing by 7.5 per cent in 2010 and 2.7 per cent last year.
The dramatic slowdown has been blamed on a lack of investment in infrastructure and a skills shortage, though both areas are being addressed at breathtaking speed.
For example, though Portugal is not quite as depressed as its Spanish neighbour, it’s not too far behind. As the Portuguese economy contracts and austerity measures either bite or are deeply unpopular (the government recently cancelled several bank holidays), so a wholesale exodus of Portugal’s brightest youngsters to its former colonial territories is taking place.
The two most popular destinations are Angola, well remunerated but considered extremely dangerous, and Brazil where Portuguese is the national language and European skills are welcomed and readily embraced.
But it’s not only Portuguese nationals who are flocking to south America’s largest country. Brazil has also attracted enormous inflows of foreign capital, much of it from China, which has invested heavily in Brazil’s colossal oil and gas industry, and has embarked upon an ambitious infrastructure development plan, investing an estimated $550billion to support economic growth.
The country’s demographics are also in its favour: the average age is just 27.
Back in February, as Britons agonised over whether our Olympics would be any good or simply full of embarrassing administrative errors and a dearth of gold medals, Brazil overtook Great Britain to become the world’s sixth-largest economy.
Crucially, the country boasts a thriving middle class and strong, steady levels of consumer spending which have boosted the fortunes of several indigenous businesses.
Several well-respected UK-based fund managers believe this will continue to be the case as Brazil’s economy is less dependent on global trade than many of its peers.
With the basic framework in place, Brazil has turned its attention to infrastructure as it prepares to host the globe’s two largest sporting events, although expenditure will not be limited to new stadia and sporting facilities.
The country’s airports, public transport system, roads, water and sewage infrastructure system all need upgrading as part of the Growth Acceleration Programme (PAC) currently being implemented by the Brazilian government.
Yet sport and a collective desire to grasp the unique opportunity afforded twice in the next four years to show a proud, confident nation to the world, has played a huge role in Brazil’s desire to promote economic growth. Nowhere is this more evident than at one of the globe’s most iconic sporting arenas: the Maracana.
Mere mention of its name conjures up images of Pele, Garrincha, Carlos Alberto, Rivelino and a host of others who graced a stadium that once packed in a staggering 191,000 for a match against Paraguay in 1969.