A chance to bask in Olympic glory


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Photo courtesy of Renato Sette Camara/Prefeitura do Rio

A wave of positive media reports, beautiful images and an overall positive focus on Rio is expected as the 2016 Summer Olympics is coming up. This is good for business, and Norwegian players are making plans.

The bar «Devassa» in Bolivar Street in Copacabana will host the Scandinavian Olympic Church during the Olympic Games, a joint effort by the Norwegian and the Swedish churches in Brazil.

According to Anders Rosland, Norway´s priest in Rio de Janeiro, Scandinavian supporters are invited to come together, watch the competitions on Norwegian TV and of course enjoy a waffle or two among friends.

«Our staff will be strengthened during the Olympics, and we hope to be of service to all the Norwegians and others coming to Rio to enjoy the Olympics. We hope to make it the place Scandinavians will gather during the games», Mr. Rosland says.

Breakfast seminars and smaller events will probably also take place at Devassa, but the organizers are still working on the agenda.

At the Norwegian church in Gávea different meetings will also take place and plans are also being made for a Royal lunch at the church, which is named after HRH Princess Ragnhild, the late sister of the current king, HRH King Harald of Norway.

The Norwegian royal family often marks their presence at the Olympic Games around the world, and as the family has particularly close ties to Rio de Janeiro, it was expected they would make an appearance during the August games as well.

HRH Crow Prince Haakon has already confirmed his presence and his sister, HH Princess Märtha Louise of Norway will be in Rio for the Paralympic Games.

Two Norwegian ministers are also expected to Rio during the Olympics and Paralympics – Minister of Culture, Linda Cahtrine Hofstad Helleland and Minister of Children and Equality, Solveig Horne.

According to the Consulate General, a networking reception, with Norwegian bacalhau playing an important part, will probably also take place, but the program for the dignitaries is still being worked out.

This will actually be the 25. time that Norway participates in the Summer Olympics.

The female handball team are the biggest gold medal favorites in the Norwegian delegation of 70 athletes. On August 6, Norway and Brazil will meet in the very first game of the handball tournament.

Rower Olav Tufte is another athlete with chances to take home a medal.

In the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Norway won to gold medals (The Female Handball Team and Erik Verås Larsen – kayak single), one silver medal (Bartosz Piasecki – fencing) and one bronze medal (Alexander Kristoff – cycling)

Photo courtesy of NIBR.Photo courtesy of NIBR.For the Paralympic games, about 50 Norwegian athletes are expected to Rio de Janeiro.

Under scrutiny
Research professor Einar Braathen (in the photo) at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research is looking into consequences of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a project funded by the Norwegian Research Council. Earlier this year he presented his research to the Brazlian Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in Oslo.

Together with researchers at UFRJ and with Norwegian PhD student Celina Sørbøe, who is currently living in Rio de Janeiro, Professor Braathen is studying the link between citizenship and big sports events and to what extent these events spur social and political mobilizations. Braathen and his wife are also making a movie, «The Olympic Dream» that they will show when they come to Rio in the end of June.

They will only conclude their research in 2019, but at this point Professor Braathen says that as a host city, Rio de Janeiro, and Brazil – as a democratic regime – has done some of the biggest investments compared to other Olympic host cities the last decades. He does however argue that the urban governance in Rio has taken a neoliberal turn, using the global mega sports event as a strategy to privatize public land and enhance private economic development in the city.

Business opportunities
All the suppliers of goods and services to the Olympic Games have been carefully vetted by the organizers, and sustainability is one of the main demands. Einar Braathen believes that the Olympic suppliers might be potentially interesting future business partners, also for Norwegian stakeholders in Brazil.

«Future collaboration with suppliers that have been so closely vetted, could definitely give a positive outcome.»

It is not uncommon that host cities of big sports events are subject to heavy scrutiny by the world press. This was the case for Sotchi, Russia (2014) and Beijing, China (2008), and Rio de Janeiro has been criticized for failing to clean the Guanabara Bay and for the evictions of people in Vila Autodromo, close to the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.

Some argue that in times of crisis, the Olympics could be a «breath of fresh air» in a year plagued with political unrest and bad economic news.

«An event like this could have been used to build bridges between people from different social classes and neighborhoods. In an earlier project the Olympic Park was planned at Ilha do Fundão. London and Barcelona succeeded and managed to do urban reforms and build public facilities that later became accessible to everyone. There has been great investments in infrastructure and urban upgrading, but plans for low income neighborhoods were abandoned. Rio could have done so much more, but remains a very divided city. The deep economic crisis that the state of Rio is going through also makes us wonder if Rio really can afford hosting such an extravagant event», Professor Braathen says.

But as the Olympics is coming up, he expects the event to become a success.

«Brazilians are good hosts and good at hosting parties, so unless no unexpected environmental, human rights or corruption related scandals are revealed in the final stages of the preparations, the Rio Olympics will probably be a success. This positive image could rub off on other players with links to Rio de Janeiro», Professor Braathen says.

«A perfect moment»
This is something the local business and investment promotion agency Rio Negócios hopes to use to take advantage of. Rio Negócios will host a series of conferences, panels and seminars before, during and after the 2016 Summer Olympics, and energy, infrastructure and technology are among the themes of the 43 different business events on the agenda.

Rio Negócios hopes to attract 2800 business leaders and a total audience of 4900 to the events, and calls the Olympics the «perfect moment for exchanging experiences, building relationships and business development».



By Runa Hestmann, NBCC journalist