natal

BBC World News

NATAL – Fans heading to Brazil’s northeast region for the World Cup may need to guard against dengue fever – a disease carried by mosquitoes for which there is no vaccine.

Most regions of Brazil will be low-risk for the disease, but some experts say the tournament may coincide with a spike in cases in the northeast region of the country, meaning care should be taken in the World Cup host cities of Natal, Fortaleza and Salvador.

Watch my report from Natal – produced and made for BBC Health Check, BBC World News TV.

Versão em português aqui

NATAL – Take it all in. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Brazil’s northeast region.

I’m just here for a couple of days on a filming trip for the BBC, which has taken me to the far less glamorous North Zone of the city. Then I’ll head back to São Paulo and normal service shall resume.

Just thought I’d share these photos I took along the way:

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FIFA inspection. Photo by Nacho Doce/Reuters.

FIFA and the LOC will now inspect the six stadiums not used in last year’s Confederations Cup. Photo by Nacho Doce/Reuters.

With less than three months until kick-off in Brazil, FIFA and the Brazil 2014 Local Organising Committee (LOC) began a final, week-long round of operational inspections on Thursday for stadiums hosting this year’s World Cup, even though three of the venues have yet to be completed.

After visiting the six stadiums which hosted last year’s World Cup warm-up, the Confederations Cup, in January, the final round of inspections will visit the remaining six stadiums – in São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Cuiabá, Manaus and Natal.

LOC stadiums operations manager Tiago Paes said the inspection tour was a final chance to “consolidate operational plans” and would allow the various World Cup departments, from security to catering, to make sure everything planned over the last few years is in place.

First on the list is São Paulo’s Arena Corinthians, also known as the Itaquerão, which will host the World Cup opener on 12 June between Brazil and Croatia.

But the 65,800-capacity stadium is now causing the biggest headache for soccer’s world governing body, as it is still at least six weeks from completion.

The Brazilian construction company working on the stadium, Odebrecht, says it will be operational by 15 April, but Corinthians, the soccer team behind the work, says some items will take longer, including some VIP boxes and the all-important big screens.

Curitiba’s Arena da Baixada and the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá are also as yet unfinished and work on both is expected to go to the wire.

Even if the stadiums are completed on time, there are concerns that temporary structures, such as those set to house broadcast teams and sponsors, may not be.

FIFA said its secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, is expected back in Brazil next week for a “series of meetings” to discuss World Cup preparations. Inspection teams are expected to report their findings back to him on 27 March in Rio de Janeiro.

The twelve stadiums were meant to have been ready by December 2013 to meet FIFA’s deadline and allow for the venues to be tested but when the New Year arrived, six of the stadiums were not ready.

Host cities are now working round the clock to get both stadiums and associated infrastructure projects ready, or at least in some working form, for this June’s much-anticipated tournament.

Written for Anadolu Agency

Natal in Rio Grande do Norte state in north-east Brazil is the City of Sun.

Surrounded by dunes, it makes an excellent location for sand buggying “com emoção” (which should translate as “fast and furious”) around the sandy hills, where you can zipwire into a cool lagoon or just relax and drink some coconut water.

In this video we travel from Genipabu (Jenipabu) to Jacumã via nine beaches and four lagoons.

A full blog on the trip is coming soon.

Music – various forró songs from the region.