Looking back at the Rio 2016 Games: Did the Olympic Agenda 2020 already have an impact on the Rio sports venue concept? And if so, which kind of impact?
The Olympic Agenda 2020 is a logical follow-up from the experience gained during the last 5-6 Olympic Games. As such, yes – we can say that it also had some impact on Rio, in particular in two domains.
On one hand, with regards to venue-related decisions, such as their post-Games use: for example, take the temporary swimming venue that will be dismantled and relocated to two different swimming pools across the city, or the Future Arena (handball) that will become the home to four different schools. Also, it is worth mentioning that the reduction of venue capacities was requested for hockey and rugby, for example.
On the other hand, an even more significant effect of Agenda 2020 could be observed in the approach that the Olympic players – IOC, IFs, NOCs and the media – had to adopt towards a certain number of proposals and the way services needed to be adapted to the local situation.
Which sports venues do you expect to develop a positive legacy for the city of Rio and its population?
It is impossible to tell, at the current stage, which venue will bring the most positive legacy to Rio’s citizens. What we know today is that a legacy plan has been agreed upon, but – of course – still needs to be implemented. Only at that stage, we will be able to really assess the popularity of the one or other venue. However, I can see two areas with an excellent legacy: the Olympic Park and the Deodoro zone.
In the Olympic Park, for example, let’s take the Arenas Cariocas 1, 2 and 3. Arena 1 will be dedicated to high-level sports competitions or shows, arena 2 will become a training centre for Brazilian sport in addition to the Maria Lenk swimming pool, the gymnastics training centre and the Velodrome. And arena 3 will be transformed into a school with a special focus on sport.
The Deodoro zone and its park will have a dual function for the canoe slalom and the BMX track. On one side, it will be dedicated to high-level sport over certain periods and, for the rest of the time, it will be at the disposal of the local community, which is one of the poorest of the city of Rio.
These are some examples and, additionally, the population will benefit from many Sports for All places that were built across the city of Rio over recent years in view of the staging of the Olympic Games.
What was your biggest concern looking at the Rio sports venues, and what was the biggest success?
The biggest concern in Rio regarding venue development was to understand who was responsible for the delivery of the venues. At the time of the bid, most of them were under the responsibility of the Ministry of Sport. However, things changed by the time venue development had to be finalised. Even though the Ministry kept the financial responsibility for the venues, their delivery had been put in the hands of the Region and the City. At the end, the City ultimately became the sole party responsible, thanks to the Mayor of Rio who was instrumental in the delivery of this project. All these various changes in responsibility had a lot of repercussions on deadlines agreed with the different partners and put at risk the delivery of the overlays (temporary constructions for the Games’ needs).
Unfortunately, the same situation arouse for the delivery of those overlays, with the authorities responsible for delivery changing many times and, often, responsibility being also shifted back to the Organising Committee at a very late stage!
Of course, the political and economic situation in Brazil in the past two years also had a very strong influence on the delivery of those venues.
The most difficult deliveries were those of the Velodrome and the Tennis stadium, as well as the renovation of the Olympic Stadium. Owing to the economic situation, companies in charge of these deliveries had to be replaced.
At the end, the biggest success for all of us was to simply deliver all the venues on time for the Games. The nicest outcomes were the Arenas Cariocas, the Future Arena and its concept, as well as the beautiful Beach Volleyball temporary stadium.
Which learnings did you take from Rio which might be important for future Games organisers?
Of course, there are many lessons to be learnt from the Rio experience. The first one is to adapt the vision the IOC had on developing the agenda 2020. Second, how the IOC and the other partners can better work together in order to deliver a simpler message to Games organisers. Third, how the IOC could attempt to reorganise its structures in order to support future Organising Committees even more efficiently.