Rio 2016 must "not be scared" by success of London 2012

Sunday, 18 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay at the Windsor Barra Hotel in Rio de Janeiro

Sebastian Coe receives baton from Carlos Nuzman Rio de Janeiro November 17 2012November 18 - Rio 2016 were today urged not to be "scared" by the success of London 2012 and to organise the Olympics and Paralympics in their own style as the official debriefing of this year's Games officially begun here today.

More than 500 delegates have gathered here for the event to look at the principal areas of organising the Games and focussing on what was learnt during London 2012.

Any fears that relations between the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Organising Committees had been damaged by the scandal that saw nine employees from the Brazilian city sacked for illegally downloading files during the Olympics in Britain when they were on secondment appeared unfounded, judging by the warmth that still exists between Sebastian Coe and Carlos Nuzman.

Coe, the chairman of London 2012, publilcy presented to Nuzman, the President of Rio 2016, the Brazilian copper petal that accompanied each of the 204 teams at the Opening Ceremony this summer.

Sebastian Coe presenting copper petal to Carlos Nuzman Rio de Janeiro November 17 2012Sebastian Coe (right) presents the copper petal that accompanied the Brazilian team during the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 to Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman

"We want to assist Rio and other future organisers with the London experience," said Coe.

"We will share our learnings and we are willing to help out in all areas, especially when it comes to the legacy for the youth."

Coe has been able to travel here and revel in being head of what is widely being hailed as the greatest Olympics in history, setting a high benchmark for Rio 2016 to aspire to.

But Denis Oswald, who had been chairman of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coordination Commission for London 2012, pointed that at this stage four years ago the British capital was in the same position.

"It's very important an OCOG [Organising Committee for the Olympic Games] is not scared by the success of the previous Games," he said.

"Each country is different and can provide something very special.

"I remember Athens [in 2004] when people said how can they comepte with Sydney [in 2000]?

"Even before Mr Obama, we said, 'Yes they can!'

"And after Beijing, with its almost unlimited funds, people asked how could London compete?

"But they did their own thing and produced one of the greatest Games in history."

Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director for the Olympic Games, acknowledged that not everything London did would necessarily transfer to Rio.

"We know that we will not be able to have all the answers because much depends on the local context," he said.

Eduardo Paes at London 2012 debrief November 17 2012Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes is promising that the city will do the first Olympics and Paralympics in South America their own way

Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, promised that while they were absorbed the lessons they learned this week they still do some things their own way when the Olympics and Paralympics are staged in South America for the first time.

"London have given us a lot of work to do," he said. 

"Since we won the bid [in 2009], Barcelona 1992 has been our model, the change that happened in the city. 

"But what London has done is incredible.

"You turned the hearts of the people. 

"I hope we can give more work to Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo [the bidders for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics] than you have given us.

"The London Games brought transformation to an entire area of London and to people's hearts.

"The transformation in Rio de Janeiro has already begun."

Perhaps as an illustration of how Rio will do things differently is that Paes appeared on stage without a tie and then announced he was banning them for the rest of the debriefing - leading to Coe and Nuzman to remove theirs. 

"I want to say that the Mayor of Rio decrees that all of you can be at ease," he told the audience to peels of laughter.

"You are released from the tie."

Sebastian Coe takes tie off Rio de Janeiro November 17 2012London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe responded enthusiastically to the Mayoral decree for ties to be removed

"That's what I call an initiative worthy of a Mayor," said Coe.

Paes responded by saying: "But the Mayor here is not as crazy as your Mayor [Boris Johnson]."

The message was clear, though.

"We're learning with London's experience, but we will do the Games the Rio style," said Paes.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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