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  • Top Story Replay -- Debrief Builds Team for 2014 Olympics


    Sochi CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko called the debrief a team-building test event. (ATR)
    (ATR) The head of the Sochi Winter Olympics tells Around the Rings that the just-ended debriefing from Vancouver has united his team as it heads towards 2014.

    “My team, who are the most talented managers in Russia, are united now as one. They really realize the importance to stick with the team,” said Dmitry Chernyshenko at the conclusion of the week-long debriefing.

    He called it a test event for Sochi which also allowed organizers to deal with the range of Olympic stakeholders, use volunteers and experience the details of staging a meeting for the Olympic family.

    Held at a resort in the mountains where the snow and sliding events for the 2014 Games will be staged, the IOC-organized debriefing brought together more than 400 participants, many of them from Sochi and various government departments.

    Three days last week were spent reviewing technology issues, four days this week covering more than two dozen other operational issues, from accommodations to weather.

    Sochi volunteers are recognized by Dmitry Chernyshenko for their work during the debrief. (B.Mackin)
    Jean Claude Killy, chair of the IOC Commission overseeing preparations for Sochi says he hopes the Russian organizers learned more about the need to anticipate “anything”.

    “In my opinion it’s way, way more complicated to organize the Winter Games,” said Killy, who ran the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.

    “This team has to be ready and know all the variables that can materialize and throw the organization off balance,” he said.
    Gilbert Felli, Executive Director of Olympic Games for the IOC, who took part in the first IOC-sponsored debrief 10 years ago from Sydney to Athens, says this one in Sochi is bigger than ever. And he notes the level of attention from the participants is also at a higher level.

    “We could see that the people who were sitting in the rooms have interest. They are not there because they were sent by their boss to go to the meeting and take a few notes. They are there because they are enthusiastic to learn about the Olympics. So it’s a big change,” says Felli.
    Chernyshenko, Killy, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, Furlong and Felli at the end of the debrief press conference. (ATR)

    Vancouver 2010 CEO John Furlong tells ATR that this was the fifth IOC debrief he has attended and that he can’t imagine staging the Olympics without such a transfer of knowledge.

    He also says Sochi made the most of the debrief by being prepared.

    “They were so well prepared. Obviously they had gone to school on Vancouver and came to this meeting ready to make the most of their time here,” said Furlong.

    Chernyshenko says there were “no big surprises” for Sochi from Vancouver from the debrief but that the information will help his team do a better job.

    In fact, Chernyshenko announced three changes in thinking for Sochi already in place as a result of the experience of Vancouver.

    First, he said Sochi will work faster to bring venues into readiness so that as much time as possible is available to make them ready for the Olympics.

    Second, he says Sochi is preparing now to deal with adverse climatic conditions, such as the lack of snow that challenged VANOC at the venue for snowboard and freestyle skiing.
    VANOC CEO John Furlong and Sochi 2014 IOC Commission chair Jean Claude Killy. (ATR)

    Third, Chernyshenko says Sochi organizers realize the importance of mobilizing the whole country to support the Games. As part of that effort, he says Sochi plans to launch its mascot program in 2011, ahead of schedule.

    Felli says preparation for these debriefings is another factor in their success. With Olympic bid cities now included as delegates to the debriefing, they develop an understanding early in the going that passing on knowledge from one organizing committee to another isn’t something that can be thrown together as a post-Games activity.

    Felli says preparation for the organization of the next debriefing began with a meeting this week with Rio 2016, which will host the event in November 2012, with London taking its turn to pass along its experience to the Brazilians.

    Written and reported in Sochi by Ed Hula.

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