04 Aug 2014

Bravo Brazil — Parabéns Brasil – But Don’t Get Too Smug

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By Jill Pilgrim

It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago many of us were transfixed by FIFA World Cup soccer taking place throughout Brazil. Many Americans dropped off after the U.S. team was knocked out of contention. FIFA, the world governing body for soccer/football, should be pleased with this World Cup. The worldwide television audience broke records, and there were no reported major protests or civil or criminal unrest. The television views of Brazil’s cities, forests and waterways were inviting. All in all, a huge success for Brazil! Meus parabéns!

Oh yes, I did not forget the devastating loss of Brazil’s national team in the semi-final and consolation matches. What was both amazing and commendable was the manner in which Brazil’s citizenry took the poor performances and 4th place finish in stride, and ultimately supported their team. Given the “it’s all or nothing” attitude portrayed of Brazilians about their beloved soccer – futebol – they seemed to understand that 4th in the world is an outstanding achievement when two of your best players are out of the match, and that “you can’t win them all!” And Brazil did beat many good teams to get as far in the tournament as they did. What will be interesting to see is where Brazilian soccer and sport go from this point forward.

Check, World Cup successfully hosted, and those media naysayers should eat their words and apologize! Next, gear up for Olympics! Hold up Brasileiros, not so fast! Hosting a summer Olympic Games is on a whole different level than hosting World Cup soccer.

Having worked as an administrator and executive in both Olympic and individual professional sport, trust me when I say “Brazil has its work cut out for it, and should not be too smug about its apparent success with the World Cup”. I say “apparent” because as my colleagues and I at Precise Advisory Group who have hosted sports events know, there is much that happens behind the scenes that the public and media will never know about; wink!

The summer Olympic Games are huge; 41 different sports and disciplines with many different types of physical characteristics for the related sporting venues. Track and field – Athletics – uses the traditional oval as well as at least 26.2 more miles of outside the stadium road surface for the marathon and race walking events. Cycling uses both the velodrome and the roads. The new Olympic sport of golf requires acres of well-manicured fairways and greens. Rowing, kayaking and sailing require differing types of waterways. You get the picture. Then add to that housing and transporting upwards of 10,000 athletes, plus many multiples of that number of competition officials, not to mention the millions of tourists and family that will come with these throngs.

Olympic athletes are not like tightly controlled soccer teams accustomed to moving in unison and having one media spokesperson. The thousands of Olympic athletes in individual sports will arrive in Brazil and will immediately tweet, email, post photos, and talk to friends, family and the media about the conditions upon their arrival in Brazil and throughout their stay. Long lines at immigration processing or waiting for luggage or traffic delays on the way to the Olympic Village will be immediately reported. Likewise, the media will immediately voice their pleasure or displeasure with their accommodations, eating options and work spaces at competition venues, and will eagerly fan out to interview athletes, their families, and tourists about their experiences. In other words, the Olympics in Rio and surroundings in 2016 will be a whole different ball game!

Having attended the Montreal, Los Angeles, Seoul, Sydney, and London Olympics, and having worked for an Olympic sport governing body during the Beijing Olympics, I can confidently report that Brasileiros are well advised to take that same strength of character and national pride displayed during the FIFA World Cup and use it as motivation to roll up their sleeves and do everything possible, as soon as possible (i.e. today), to ensure that its beloved country is ready for Rio 2016. This will take a much more concentrated and massive effort and resolve than World Cup preparations because, despite Brazil’s view that soccer is the only sport, millions of athletes, officials, and tourists will be on your doorsteps in the summer of 2016 to show you what a true international multi-sports carnival is all about. We at Precise Advisory Group can’t wait to see Brazil triumph again, and we are ready to support you with our expertise and Olympic knowledge. Boa Sorte!

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