A $10 million donation from China to the Costa Rican Institute of Sports and Recreation (ICODER) will help fund renovations to the National Stadium, Costa Rica’s largest and most modern sports venue.
The most significant upgrade will be an improved fire suppression system, according to the daily La Nación, while other works include electrical maintenance, painting interior sections, and refining ramp access.
While a giant Costa Rican flag waves on the western side of the National Stadium, the “Jewel of La Sabana,” as it was deemed by former President Oscar Arias, was constructed by a staff of entirely Chinese workers.
In June 2007, Arias severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan to officially establish Costa Rica’s new partnership with China. As a token of appreciation, the Chinese government offered Costa Rica a new National Stadium as “a gift” and spent an estimated $100 million on its construction.
“Six people of Chinese nationality” continue to provide technical consulting in regards to the 35,000-seat venue, according to stadium officials.
During a visit to San José earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Costa Rica against allying itself too closely to China.
Pompeo said the United States “approaches our economic relationship in the spirit of partnership.”
“That’s a stark contrast to the flashy promises from the Chinese government that have often produced only debt, dependency, and even the erosion of sovereignty from some nations,” the U.S. Secretary of State argued.
The Chinese Embassy in Costa Rica replied that Pompeo, “following his usual style of speaking irresponsibly, criticized arbitrarily and without any basis.”
Costa Rica’s women’s national soccer team faces Brazil at the National Stadium on April 8, while several other events will be held at the venue in the coming months.