IOC: Lessons from London to help Rio Games

Associated Press
A construction worker lays blocks at the Maracana soccer stadium as it undergoes renovations during a tour for journalists organized by the Rio 2016 Committee in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. The IOC Official Debriefing of the London 2012 Games will take place from Nov. 17 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.  (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The IOC believes the experience of London organizers in hosting a successful Olympics will be crucial in helping Rio de Janeiro deliver in 2016.

Rio organizing committee president Carlos Nuzman on Wednesday praised the "extraordinary" help from the London team and said lessons learned after weeklong debriefing sessions will contribute greatly to the first Olympics in South America.

IOC vice president Nawal El Moutawakel said London's experience will provide a "long-term influence" to the future hosts and the Olympic movement.

"I said that London had advanced the cause of the Olympics, and they have certainly reinforced that claim this week," Moutawakel said. "This was not about what went right in London or about what went wrong in London. It was about sharing experiences, about sharing ideas, about giving back to our movement."

Organizers of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and of the 2016 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, also participated in the debriefing, along with the other bid cities for the 2020 Summer Games — Istanbul and Tokyo.

Moutawakel, who also heads the 2016 coordination commission, said she hopes Rio learned from how London "worked closely" together with their key clients — including athletes, sponsors, the media and fans — "to insure they were delivering correct services at the right time."

"This level of preparation required a huge amount of work and coordination but can make the difference between good games and great games," she said. "On a project of this complexity, this is a Herculean task, but the London team was able to ensure that everyone was all pulling in the same direction for the good and the benefit of the project."

Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London organizing committee, said he wanted to make sure Rio works hard to get the population behind the games.

"We found particularly interesting to talk about the ways that we engaged millions of people across the U.K. and how the population embraced the games. We talked about ways of making that happening here," he said. "It's Rio's moment to shine. This is a wonderful opportunity for Rio to transform the city and the lives of its young people."

Deighton said he felt Rio has been doing its "homework" on preparations.

"People from Rio have been very focused on the job that they have to do, they are asking all the right questions and they are really on top of what they need to be doing," he said.

Nuzman thanked the London team for passing in-depth information during what he called the best "debriefing" sessions he has attended.

"The lessons we learned these few days certainly will contribute a lot to how we will organize the games and to the growth of the Olympic movement in Brazil and in the world," he said. "I hope to do the same to the 2020 cities."

Future hosts learned about all aspects of the London games, including planning, technology, transportation, security and accommodation. The discussions also took into consideration the experiences of athletes, fans, volunteers and the media.

Theresa Zabell, who is part of Madrid's efforts to win the 2020 Games, said the Spanish city learned that it must follow the lessons from London but adapt its plans to the local conditions.

"We're very grateful for the open manner in which the team from London shared their experience," the two-time gold-medal-winning sailor said. "They haven't hidden anything. In fact, they have gone even further, telling us how they would do things if faced with hosting the games all over again."

IOC president Jacques Rogge could not attend the event because doctors advised him to skip the long flight to Rio following recent hip replacement surgery. He also wanted to stay in Switzerland to monitor the cleanup of International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne following a serious flooding of the building.

"The debriefing is by no means meant to provide a cookie-cutter template for future hosts," Rogge said in a statement. "Rather, it is intended to provide valuable lessons that host cities can adopt and adapt to fit their own unique circumstances. We encourage upcoming games organizers to innovate and expand on what they learn and ultimately improve upon the best practices of their predecessors."

The meeting came less than two months after nine Rio committee employees were fired for illegally downloading files from British organizers during the London Games. The scandal over the files prompted heavy criticism of Rio organizers in Brazil, but London officials had already publicly said they put the episode behind them.

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