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Gilbert Felli © Gallo Images

London team in Rio to share Olympic knowledge

London Olympic organisers 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 organisers during the London Games.

London officials will spend nearly a week in Brazil sharing their experiences after seven years of preparations, which culminated with 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 following recent hip replacement surgery.

Rogge also wants to stay in Switzerland to monitor the cleanup of International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne following the serious flooding of the building this week caused by a burst water main.

"He will be working in Lausanne," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "His doctors told him to cut back on long-haul travel to be on the safe side. There is always a risk of thrombosis on a long flight."

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 organisers with less than four years to go before the staging of the first Olympics in South America.

"During this period we will have the opportunity to learn from the experience of our London colleagues to improve our work and deliver excellent Games in 2016," Rio committee president Carlos Nuzman said.

Also on hand will be organisers of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 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 organisers to review all aspects of the games, including planning, technology, transportation, security and accommodation. The discussions will also take into consideration the experiences of athletes, fans, volunteers and the media.

The Rio organising 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 organisational structure," with executive Sidney Levy taking over as 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 organisers 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 organising 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.

Among the venues to be visited are the Joao Havelange Stadium, which will host the track and field competition in 2016, and the Maracana Stadium, home to the opening and closing ceremonies. The tour will also include stops at the construction site of the Olympic Park and Olympic Village, as well as other infrastructure work across the city.

The IOC has increasingly pushed organisers to share their experiences with future hosts to promote a smooth transfer of knowledge and help define the future of the games. The first official debriefing came during preparations for the 2000 Sydney Games; this is the seventh edition.


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