Workers clean a section of bleachers on Wednesday, one day before the World Cup.
São Paulo's Itaquerão stadium will host the opening game of the 2014 World Cup on Thursday despite not being fully completed.
The stadium looks ready to go on the surface. The temporary bleachers jutting out from either end of the venue have finally been approved by the fire department, and scaffolding along the stands has been covered by a tarp. Both Brazil and Croatia trained at the venue without incident on Wednesday.
For weeks organizers have expressed confidence that everything would go smoothly.
But work around the stadium is ongoing, and some major parts of the arena won't be finished until after the tournament.
Associated Press reporter John Leiceister explored the bowels of the venue this week — without getting confronted by security, by the way — and found that just below the surface the stadium is far from finished:
"Exposed wires and unfitted lights hung from ceilings. Corridors and other areas smelling strongly of plaster, paint and glue were clogged with uninstalled furniture and fittings, piled up crates of catering equipment and construction materials waiting to be carted away.
"Inside the arena, one corridor behind an open door marked 'Medical Room' in fact led to a completely empty room. Electrical wires poked out from walls and ceilings. Safety barriers to prevent people from tumbling onto seated spectators waited under plastic to be fitted."
Construction, which was supposed to be completed in December 2013, was delayed multiple times after three workers died on the project.
At the stadium's final test event, on June 1, one of the sections of temporary bleachers had yet to be approved for use, and only 37,000 tickets could be sold for the 61,000-seat arena. It will go into the World Cup without holding a single full-capacity event:
Outside the arena work continued on Wednesday. A walkway still looked to be under construction with 24 hours to go:
The roof of the stadium won't be fully finished until after the World Cup. As a result, fans in the temporary bleachers and parts of the lower bowl won't be protected from rainstorms, like the one that hit the city on Tuesday.
Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images
Brazil spent $3.6 billion on building and renovating 12 venues for the World Cup. The Itaquerão is one that has a clear use after the tournament, when popular club team Corinthians will take over. But if all does not go according to plan for the opening game of the World Cup, it could be a stain on the entire tournament.
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