When the flag was handed over from London to Rio at the Olympic closing ceremony last week, some observers will have remarked on the economic symbolism.
This year Brazil overtook the UK to become the sixth largest world economy. It is also one of the world’s most active PPP markets. But all is not well in the land of capoeira and caipirinhas.
After reaching a record 7.5% in economic growth for 2010, the country slipped back to 2.7% last year on the back of a weaker global outlook and it expects a further slide in 2012.
The solution? A $65bn PPP investment programme for roads, rail, airports and water schemes.
"Partnerships with private companies are essential for continued economic development," Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said at the launch of the 30-year plan this week.
A total of $21bn has been earmarked for 7,500km of highways, including nine tenders for road widening projects over the next five years. Highways BR-040 and the BR-116 will be tendered by the end of 2012 and the remaining concessions by early next year.
Transport minister Paulo Sérgio Passos also announced $45bn-worth of schemes for 10,000km of railways. To support this, the government will create a logistics and planning group to carry out logistics studies, prepare investments, structure projects and build links between the public and private sectors.
Brazil will finally have the infrastructure compatible with its size, said Rousseff.
What’s different here is not the appeal to private investors to fund infrastructure, but the direct appeal to foreign as much as domestic investors.
Since 2010, the ruling Workers' Party of President Rousseff has given up criticising privatisations and concessions, but larger PPPs since then have suffered from a lack of competitive bidding and issues with the partnering of foreign firms.
The $16.5bn Rio-São Paulo-Campinas high-speed rail line will be tendered again in October after two failed attempts to attract any bidders.
"Brazil is offering an extraordinary investment opportunity in an environment of economic and institutional stability," Rousseff said at the launch of the plan.
Projects will benefit from low-interest, long-term loans from state-backed BNDES bank and Canadian pension funds have already expressed an interest but many more funders will need the right reassurances, and long before it’s Brazil's turn to hand over the Olympic flag in 2016.