I'm Pleased to Prove That Brazil Can Run an Olympics, Said the President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee
In charge of the COB (Brazilian Olympic Committee) for 21 years, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, 74, attributes his performance in the Rio Olympics to the long time in which he has been in leadership in Brazilian sports.
Nuzman, who at the moment is maneuvering to continue in his position for four more years - a subject that he won't comment on -, designed the new law that prohibits leaders from remaining in their positions for more than eight years.
"After delivering the Olympic Games that I delivered, tell me... If I had only been in sports leadership for eight years, could I have delivered an Olympics?". Said the leader, who also presides over the Olympic Organizing Committee, to Folha.
Nuzman confirmed that he is proud of the preparations for the Games, and said that the opening ceremony "was the best in history", and that setbacks like the problems at the Olympic Village were due to the complexity of the event.
Nuzman rejects the idea that the Committee will have to depend on taxpayer money to balance the event's budget and said that the entity has the right to seek sponsorship of state-owned companies if necessary.
Folha - What was the best and the worst thing at the Olympics?
Carlos Arthur Nuzman - The Games were spectacular, beyond all expectations. The vast majority didn't believe in them beforehand, but lots of folks will leave here saying that they were the best Games in history. That the opening ceremony was the best in history, I have no doubt.
The athletes didn't encounter any delays, they competed in iconic facilities. We finished with a result that I know is surprising for a lot of folks. I am pleased to prove that Brazil can run an Olympics.
And the worst?
I don't work with what is worse. I work with what needs to be improved.
The President of the IOC [Thomas Bach] says that he didn't want to live through this level of stress. Was it stressful?
Anyone who organizes an Olympics has to know that it is very complex. This is the word that I like to use. The Games are complex. You have to live with, deal with the political and economic situation of the country All of you are here seeing this. We coexisted with three Brazilian Presidents, three Governors, a mayor. These are numbers that few have to deal with, with a lot of political antagonism.
Since the beginning, the Committee has said that it wouldn't use taxpayer money. Now it is running after state-owned company sponsorships. Was there a lack of planning?
No, Let's put everything in its proper place. We said that we were working with a balanced budget, and that we would want sponsorships up until the last day of the Paralympic Games. Any sponsorship.
But the Brazilian President himself is being called in to help out.
The Government wants to help us with sponsorships. There is nothing more to it than that.
But what went wrong in balancing the budget?
Nothing went wrong.
Then, what is the reason for this involvement?
We have always said that we wanted sponsorships up until the last day. You guys are completely focused on the governmental question. We are focused on sponsors, public or private. You should put it in a different way. It is in the interest of the President to know how the games are going to turn out. No Olympics has ever been done without governmental participation.
The Committee has said that it was proud to not have to use taxpayer money. What changed?
We are proud to not to have to use taxpayer money.
But the Government announced aid of R$ 250 million [US$ 78 million].
No. That is your interpretation. If we sign a sponsorship contract, you won't be able to print in your newspaper that it isn't a sponsorship.
What happened at the Olympic Village, where the apartments were still unfinished when the time to deliver them arrived? Did the Committee make a mistake?
There was no mistake, but there are adjustments. You take 20 thousand people to locate in 31 buildings and think there will be no problems? You should know what the press wrote about Sydney-2000, where [five delegations] gave their keys back and the IOC had to intervene. Rio has been highly praised for all that was done.
What do you think about the case of American swimmer Ryan Lochte, who lied when he said that he was the victim of an armed robbery in Rio?
It's lamentable. An Olympic champion has to have respect, dignity, and an attitude. We have examples of athletes who are legends, who became heroes. He won't [become one].
*What's in your future? COB, ODEPA [Pan American Sports Organization]*
I haven't declared my candidacy for anything. I have to deliver an accountability report. What my future holds, I'm thinking about that.
Why isn't your salary published?
I don't receive a salary. I know that you guys can't deal with that, but I don't.
Translated by LLOYD HARDER