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  • Tuesday Talk - Nuzman on Legacy, Leadership, Lessons from London 2012


    Carlos Nuzman in Miami. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
    (ATR) Olympics chief Carlos Nuzman tells Around the Rings that Rio de Janeiro will be "the number one best example" of a city forever changed by the Games.

    More from the president of Rio 2016 in this wide-ranging interview conducted by ATR Editor Ed Hula on the sidelines of last week's PASO Executive Committee meeting in Miami.

    Around the Rings: First off, what was the most important thing that Rio got from the London debrief? Is there one thing that comes to mind?

    Carlos Nuzman: I’m very happy with the debriefing from London, for several points. One of them is with the IOC. That’s very well organized. That’s very well prepared to bring the organizing committees for the next Olympic Games in summer and winter and the bid cities for Summer Games to be together and participate in the briefing. I think it is one step that is very important to give to all the organizers and to have from London a very open discussion and friendly participation and give all feelings and how they work since they won and during the seven years of preparation for the Olympic Games.

    ATR: And you think people in Rio now know better what to do? From the government to the organizing committees, you had several hundred people attending...
    London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe passes a ceremonial baton to Carlos Nuzman during the recent debrief. (Rio 2016)

    CN: And always we get a lot of information of learning and give another level of understanding about the complexity of the games, the organizing of the games. The Olympic Games is the most complex organization in the world, sport or no sport.

    And I am very happy with our sport people, but also with our governments in the three levels – federal, state, and city. You see the numbers. They participate with full house, and I think this is one example that we can leave as a legacy as organizers.

    ATR: Your organizing committee has taken on some new staff. You have a new CEO and COO. That’s all been rearranged. How do you feel about your governance structure now?

    CN: When you finish one Games and you have the four years to go for the next, you need to restructure your organizing committee to be faster and also separate some areas. I understood we needed to do this, and certainly if we need to do more later, we will. There is no doubt about this. The most important is we can offer the best organization as possible.

    ATR: You feel you have a stable team now that there have been some noticeable changes over the last year?
    New CEO Sidney Levy with Carlos Nuzman and COO Leonardo Gryner. (Rio 2016)

    CN: We are completely stable. I have a very good team. I have very good people working, enthusiastic and working a lot. I used to say one thing: “We organize every day our Olympic Games.” Every day. During the preparation and during the Games. And this sentence you will listen to say me all the time in every interview, because this sentence is what I feel and how we need to work. We needed to have the adrenaline of the athletes in ourselves as organizers to make the Games to the benefit of the athletes.

    ATR: Has your role been changed because of the new hires? Is your job easier or harder now?

    CN: I don’t want to say easier because to organize the Games, I will never be relaxed, but I feel we are more structured and with more people and conditions to deliver the Games.

    ATR: You just had this debrief with London. What’s the next major event for Rio 2016? The Torch Relay?

    CN: We will have the flag tour, we have the torch relay, we have the building of the Olympic Park. All of this is on the way, the infrastructures. We are working hard at the moment. Then you go to Rio and you can see all the changes that are coming that only the Olympic Games can bring for a city.

    ATR: How can you describe the changes that have taken place so far in Rio de Janeiro?

    CN: Rio will be the number one example of the change of the city for the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games motivate and give us this opportunity for one city, which Rio will be the number one best example ever.

    ATR: Because of what? The changes to the transportation? The Olympic Park? The new Court?

    Olympic Village construction as seen Nov. 20. (Getty Images)
    CN: Yes, I can tell you some points. One: we use the capital more than 50 years ago and nothing else was done since. Rio is always a summer city. We have the spirit of the people, they love sports. We have projects, and now we have the unity of the governments – federal, state and city – together with the sport and organizing committees working.

    We have the infrastructure of the city – transport is one of them. We have also the change in how the people see the city, and I want to tell you another thing that’s important. We know the geography of Rio is not easy. We have mountains, we have rocks, we have beaches, and these I think bring much more enthusiasm for the changes.

    ATR: You mentioned the geography. People are worried about moving about in Rio de Janeiro – that it’s going to be a lot of work, that it’s going to be hard...

    CN: Each city has its own geography, and Rio we know has different geography. But the work that’s done, especially in transportation, that will work very well and we have no doubt that we will have an Olympic transport ring, and this will work with BRTs, metro lines, railroads, and buses – this is on the way. I think it’s important for public transport. I can tell you one thing – when we won the Games, we had 17 percent only for public transportation. After these changes for the Games, we will have more than 60 percent. That’s a strong demonstration of this.

    ATR: What about some of the venues that you have to get figured out? For example, the golf course. It’s the city that needs to get this done. Are you pushing them on this?
    A rendering of the 17th hole from the golf course’s architect. (Hanse Course Design)

    CN: New sports are not easy. The sport that needs a big field of play will always be different, not difficult but different. With golf, we already have an incredible architect on our hands, one of the best in the world. He’s on his way with his work, and we have all the support and participation of the city with the mayor, with the private companies, and we are in a very good moment to go up.

    ATR: You’re not worried about delays?

    CN: No, we have time enough.

    ATR: What about field hockey? It’s going to be worked out to everybody’s satisfaction?

    CN: Yes, field hockey I hope that we can finalize this by the beginning of the year. To establish where...

    ATR: It’s the question of a permanent or temporary venue. Is that what it comes down to at this point?

    CN: In our opinion, the permanent is better because you can leave legacy in the sport.

    ATR: And permanent means Diadoro?

    CN: Permanent means Diadoro. Temporary finish, we don’t have in the country in the field of hockey, but we are studying the alternatives of temporary too.

    ATR: What about PASO? How do you think it’s going here? We have news from the executive committee meeting about budgets for the commissions, increased money for the NOCs. Is Don Mario doing a good job?

    CN: I think PASO is doing a very good job. I think some very important decisions we have here. And we will see how this works. I feel that the NOCs will be happy with the support, but we needed to know how this will happen.

    ATR: Does it make any difference that Mario is not an IOC member? That he doesn’t have that kind of influence anymore?
    Mario Vazquez Rana in Miami. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    CN: The positions that each one of us has depends on how we work. In general, Mario works always and I think he will continue even though he’s not an IOC member.

    ATR: And he wants to run for president again in 2015? That’s in three years though.

    CN: He says so, but he does not need to decide now. You see, we have the IOC elections in seven months, and no official says he is a candidate.

    ATR: How do you think the election for a new IOC president will be?

    CN: For Rio?

    ATR: Yes, for Rio.

    CN: I think the new president will be very important because some very important decisions need to come after September 2013.

    ATR: Which decisions?

    CN: We have some wishes to have new disciplines. Some of them we accept as organizers, and I understand it’s good for sport, good for public, good for the development of each of these disciplines, and I am in favor of the changes. I don’t want all of them, but to do some, yes.

    All of these changes, all of these increased disciplines, it’s the spirit and also from my side it’s the benefit of the athletes. The athletes are the actors of the Games. We work for them. Second, the youth, the youth is very important. There are 360 million youths under 18 years old in our continent. I don’t want to say all of them become Olympic athletes, but you give to them the interest of the sport and you give to them the possibility to work in the sport, journalist, lawyers, doctors, coaches, referees and then you bring this youth to be together in this sport. This will be one of our major legacies. That’s the reason I want to say.

    Beach soccer is already the showcase sport of the Asian Beach Games. (ATR)
    ATR: Futsal? Is it going to make it? Do you think there will be beach soccer?

    CN: Depends on the IFs. I didn’t receive all of them. Maybe let’s go with it.

    ATR: What can you say about the torch relay? What the planning is? When you’re going to announce it?

    CN: We need to discuss with the IOC, I prefer to discuss with them. I think it’s important because it’s the first time the Games come to our area. I think that it’s important to remember that South America is the first region to come in after Asia. Asia came in 1964, so it means from 1964 to 2016, you had more than 50 years before a new region in the world [got to host its first Games]. I think we need to give them an opportunity.

    ATR: I guess you have to convince them because they don’t want international relays anymore. You have to come to them with a plan and with a sponsor?

    CN: With our fair play and the good spirit of discussion. If they accept, I will be happy. If not, I will be happy too because we will do it in our continental country.

    ATR: Well, yes, Brazil is a big enough country to have a big torch relay anyway. It’ll be exciting to see it in some places like the North and the South and the Amazon.

    CN: It comes from the Northern Amazon to the South of the country.

    ATR: It sounds like it will be fantastic.

    CN: It will be fantastic! And you will be invited too.

    ATR: I hope so.

    CN: Take some beautiful pictures.

    Interview conducted in Miami by Ed Hula.

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