London team in Rio to share Olympic knowledge

Updated: November 16, 2012, 10:02 AM ET
Associated Press

SAO PAULO -- London Olympic organizers began arriving in Brazil on Friday to pass on their knowledge to the hosts of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The meetings come less than two months after nine Rio committee employees were fired for illegally downloading files from British organizers during the London Games.

London officials will spend nearly a week in Brazil sharing their experiences after seven years of preparations, which culminated with a successful games just a few months ago.

The official "debrief" will go ahead without IOC President Jacques Rogge, whose doctors advised him to skip the long flight to Rio after recent hip replacement surgery.

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli and other top IOC officials will attend the Rio meetings, which will bring into focus the hard challenges facing Brazilian organizers with less than four years to go before the staging of the first Olympics in South America.

Also on hand will be organizers of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, along with the three bid cities for the 2020 Summer Games -- Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo.

The sessions -- taking place from Saturday through Wednesday -- will allow organizers to review all aspects of the games, including planning, technology, transportation, security and accommodations. The discussions will also take into consideration the experiences of athletes, fans, volunteers and the media.

The Rio organizing committee is coming off major leadership changes and has huge preparation tasks ahead. Among the obstacles are ongoing legal disputes, tricky interaction with the local governments and the change of plans for some sports venues.

Rio recently announced the rugby venue won't be built where it was originally planned because a local partner failed to meet deadlines, and there is still uncertainty over the location of the field hockey arena. The land where the golf course will be constructed remains the source of a legal dispute.

Last week, the Rio committee announced leadership changes to "strengthen its organizational structure," with executive Sidney Levy taking over as the new CEO beginning next year. Levy will replace Leonardo Gryner, who becomes the committee's chief operations officer.

The scandal over the illegally downloaded files prompted heavy criticism of Rio organizers in Brazil, but London officials say they have put the episode behind them.

The Rio committee said the employees acted alone. London officials said the documents likely would have been provided to the Rio team had they requested them through the proper channels.

London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe will head the transfer of knowledge meetings, which will take place at a hotel in Rio's Barra neighborhood, where most Olympic venues will be located. IOC vice president Nawal El Moutawakel, who heads the 2016 coordination commission, is also expected in the city for the debrief.

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AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson in London contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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