Q&A with Sissel Hodne Steen


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Consul General Sissel Hodne Steen and her staff at the Norwegian Consulate in Rio are preparing for one of the biggest events they have ever handled.

Mrs. Steen (in the photo to the left) is looking forward to the upcoming international event and believes that Rio de Janeiro once again will prove itself an excellent host city.


NL: The Olympic Games will probably generate a lot of positive international media attention. Is this exactly what Brazil needs of this right now?

– Given the turbulent economic and politic situation and the international attention this has generated, the Olympics may provide an opportunity to create positive attention. Rio de Janeiro has a long tradition of hosting big events with success. Rio de Janeiro has also succeeded in show-casing the legacy projects of the Olympics, beneficial to the population. The improved transport system is one example. Of course, the difficult economic situation in the state of Rio has created some concerns. However, again we trust that Brazil will be able to deliver.


NL: What is on the agenda for the Olympics and Paralympics, besides the competitions?

– HRH Crown Prince Haakon is coming, and we are also expecting two ministers – Minister of Culture, Linda Cathrine Hofstad Helleland and the Minister of Children and Equality, Solveig Horne will be here for the Paralympics. HH Princess Märtha Louise of Norway will also mark the Paralympics with her presence. In Norway she is the patron for several foundations for handicapped, and we deeply appreciate the presence of all these dignitaries. We are still working on details of the program, but focus will be on highlighting Norway´s engagement and presence. The Minister of Culture is especially interested in Women leadership in sports.


NL: How many people are you expecting in the Norwegian delegation coming to Rio for the Olympic Games?

The Olympic delegation counts 150 people, 70 of which are athletes. For the Paralympics, we expect a delegation of 50 people, with 25 athletes


NL: Are you planning any business related events?

– The Norwegian and Swedish Churches Abroad in Brazil will be hosting an «olympic church» – a meeting place for Norwegian and Swedish visitors at Devassa in Copacabana, where breakfast seminars and other smaller events can take place. We are also planning a networking reception, where the idea is to focus on Norway´s presence and activities in Brazil. Bacalhau will play an important role here, and we hope to get the chance to show Brazilians stakeholders what Norway represents.


NL: How are you preparing for the Olympics at the Consulate General?

– We expect to receive an increased number of Norwegians in Rio, and have revised our contingency plans in case of an emergency situation. Our staff will also be strengthened.


NL: Are you receiving a lot of inquiries from Norwegians planning to come for the Olympics?

– Most inquiries come from journalists. We are of course cooperating closely with the Norwegian Olympic Committee. Before and During the Olympics we intend to distribute information in different ways, particularly on our homepage. We want to make sure that Norwegian visitors are prepared on what to expect and how to behave in Rio.


NL: What have been the trickiest tasks to solve so far?

– We are in close contact with local authorities here in Rio and we are assured that Rio is well prepared to provide the security measures needed. It is important that athletes and tourists follow the recommendations from WHO regarding zika fever. We recommend everyone to have travel insurance. And of course, we are prepared to tackle any major problems that may occur.


NL: How are your expectations for the Norwegian athletes competing?

– I have great expectations and hope they will do well and really enjoy being and competing in Rio de Janeiro. Norway is traditionally not among the countries that win most medals in the Summer Olympics, but participating and being a part of this is important, because sports is something that means a lot to a lot of people.


NL: Do you have a personal favorite on the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Teams?

– There are so many great athletes, but I really hope the Female Handball team will win the gold medal and hope for an exciting final against Brazil. Rowing is another favorite sport with Olav Tufte if he qualifies. In the Paralympics, Birgit Skarstein, competing in single sculler, is among my personal favorites. I believe she has good chances in Rio this year. She is a great representative for Norway.


NL: How can Norwegian stakeholders in Brazil take advantage of the Olympics in their business operations?

– The Olympics can contribute to demonstrating that Rio by hosting such a big event has matured, both when it comes to business environment and infrastructure. This could contribute to increasing confidence, and in sum something Norwegian stakeholder would also benefit from.

By Runa Hestmann, NBCC journalist

Photo courtesy of Rio Media Center / Renato Sette Camara / Prefeitura do Rio