Exclusive: New Rio 2016 chief executive hoping he can follow Deighton blueprint to make Games success

Wednesday, 21 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay at the Windsor Barra Hotel in Rio de Janeiro

Sidney Levy proileNovember 21 - How London 2012 performed under chief executive Paul Deighton has set a new benchmark for how cities should organise the Olympics and Paralympics, claimed the man tasked with trying to ensure that Rio 2016 emulates their success.
Sidney Levy does not officially begin his new role as Rio's new chief executive until January, but has been taking lessons at the feet of Deighton here during the London 2012 Olympics debriefing, which finished today.

"What I'm learning from talking to Paul Deighton is that you've got to run the Olympics as a limited company with transparency with clear budgets and a clear division of responsibilities," Levy told insidethegames during his first international interview. 

"His and my view of the world is very, very similar because we've been through very similar experiences.

"You put togther people with a lot of experience of the Games with business people like me and Paul who can structure the Organising Committee with the same principles as a big company.

"I can bring that to this project."

One clear advantage that Deighton had over Levy is that he was appointed in December 2005 to oversee London's preparations, within six months of them being awarded the Games, and was able to influence who filled the key positions.

Paul Deighton at Rio 2016 NOvember 21 2012London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton, seen here today the Olympic debriefing, has set a new standard, claims Rio 2016 counterpart Sidney Levy

He also had the benefit of being able to observe at close quarters three Olympics and Paralympics, at Turin in 2006, Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010. 

Levy will have one opportunity to witness at first hand how a city organises a Games, at Sochi in 2014, and that is a very different place to Rio de Janeiro.

Deighton, together with Sebastian Coe, also enjoyed, at London 2012, an organisation that in Olympic history enjoyed unprecedented stability, something sadly lacking here.

Levy will replace Leonardo Gryner, who will move to become chief operating officer, the third person to fill that role in less than five months.

Sidney Levy with Carlos Nuzman and Leonardo GrynerSidney Levy (left) with Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman (centre) and the man he will replace as chief executive, Leonardo Gryner, who is moving to become chief operating officer

"[Rio 2016 President Carlos] Nuzman told me that he's spent quite some time looking at people," Levy said.

"He said he knew he had only one bullet and that he had to get it right.

"So I think it took a little bit of time to get to me.

"I think there is still time.

"Of course, a lot of work has already been done."

Levy will join Rio 2016 from Valid Solucoes S.A, a company that provides payment solutions, identification and telecommunications systems, where he has served either as President or chief executive since 1994.

An engineer by education he has worked in both Spain and England, where he used to live in Basingstoke, and has an impressive business CV.

But the Olympics and Paralympics present a whole new opportunity and he has been soaking up all the information he can during this debriefing.

"For two days I've been through all this information from people who been doing this thing for all their lives," Levy animatedly told insidethegames.

"It's fascinating - I cried two or three times already during the [Olympic] movies because it's so moving.

"I'm very excited to be doing this."

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