By Nick Butler on Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janeiro

Foot in Brazil are aiming to take advantage of the attention on Brazil building up to Rio 2016 ©Foot In BrazilMarch 23 - Former senior British Olympic Association (BOA) official Tanya Harris has taken advantage of the growing global spotlight here by setting up a sport and security consultancy aiding organisations with logistical planning ahead of Rio 2016.

Harris, who as chief operation officer for the British Paralympic Association and then head of summer sport engagement for the British Olympic Association was involved in the Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Games, has set up Foot in Brazil along with husband Mark, a former officer in the British Army. 

Acting as an intermediary between sports organisations and partners, the company supports teams with their operational planning in Brazil ahead of Rio 2016, as well as with other sporting and training events. 

A lot of the work involves finding accommodation for athletes from sports, such as sailing and rowing, which will not be based in the Olympic Village during the Games.

This involves inspecting and short-listing potential venues before supporting teams when they come to Rio to negotiate.

But they also provide "all sorts of solutions based on whatever people want" and this can include working with National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to find suitable training venues, as well as accommodation for hospitality guests, friends and family of athletes and unaccredited media.

Although the focus is very much on sport at the moment - given the fact that Rio 2016 is drawing ever closer on the horizon - Foot in Brazil are also "very open" and keen to work with non-sporting companies as they take advantage of the growing global profile of Brazil. 

Tanya Harris speaking at an event for British businesses in Rio ©Foot in BrazilTanya Harris speaking at an event for British businesses in Rio ©Foot in Brazil

"We find venues and then help project manage them," Harris told insidethegames as she explained her reasons for relocating to Brazil and founding the company.

"I had been coming out here anyway with the British Olympic and Paralympic teams and I realised that by being here on the ground you get a lot more done.

"People in Brazil work in a different way, they like face to face meetings rather than emails - we know the language and have an understanding of Brazilian culture and how they like to work.

"So it is about knowing you have someone you can trust on the ground that you can call on when needed.

"I like to think that my background gives us an advantage over a concierge service.

"I know things like what requirements an unaccredited media official needs for example, while it also saves money for NOCs to have us here instead of paying for flights to come here themselves." 

"NOCs are out here trying to get the absolute best for their teams in terms of training facilities and accommodation.

"It is about how you best adjust your team to the environment you are competing in.

"That´s what we are trying to offer and we feel that working with us provides that extra 10 per cent edge." 

The historic and iconic backdrop of Rio, including the Sugar Loaf Mountain, is a key attraction of Rio 2016, Harris claims ©Foot in BrazilThe historic and iconic backdrop of Rio, including the Sugar Loaf Mountain, is a key attraction of Rio 2016, Harris claims ©Foot in Brazil

Harris claimed they are already working with NOCs, as well as National Governing Bodies from all over the world of large and much smaller sizes, and are thoroughly enjoying the challenge of catering to the different and unique demands of each one.

They are also working with Brazilian companies to help "bring the Games to life in a new part of the world".

Another important dimension of Foot in Brazil is their security work and, although they have no doubts about the capability of Rio 2016 to maintain security, this is something Harris sees as especially important because "Rio is a tourism city so there will be more incentive for people to go out and about during the Games".

Security advice involves a risk analysis looking at all aspects of an NOC's operations followed by training ranging from a simple "do and don't" list to more detailed emergency plans.

As well as security risks, particularly involving petty crime, Harris admits there are other challenges in Rio, including the mountainous topography and layout of the city which makes finding accommodation that extra bit harder. 

But,, after repeating the fact that they are fully up to the challenge of helping others overcome these hurdles, Harris expresses her confidence that the Games in Rio will ultimately be a huge success. 

"Every city is different - the organisation in London was outstanding and I think Brazil will be different. but I have no concerns at all that Rio and Brazil will make things happen," she said.

"And visually it is going to be fantastic."

Click here to find out more about Foot in Brazil.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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