Op-ed: Despite the press, we found working on Rio Olympics has been great

9 months ago

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Op-ed: Despite the press, we found working on Rio Olympics has been great 

By Andrew Campbell

Shared from the Salt Lake Tribune 

The Rio Olympic Games have been under intense scrutiny since the bid was awarded in 2009. Seven years later, the scrutiny has only intensified. When Rio has been in the news, the news was usually bad.

Now that the Games are underway, and the whole world is watching closely, not only for exciting competition, world records and medals, but also for failures and other possible calamities too.

As a member of the Gerflor North America team based at our corporate headquarters here in Salt Lake City, we debated long and hard about whether we should even pursue the Olympic courts bid. Did we want to be affiliated with an event that already was apparently in so much trouble? In the end, we agreed we should pursue the bid, and supplied all eight basketball competition and practice courts.

Now that we have completed the extremely complex installation, I have found a different personal experience in Rio than what is found in the mainstream media and on social media. A story that may not find its way in dramatic media headlines, but a story that I believe speaks to the spirit of Brazil and its people.

After my third trip to Rio in the last few months, I wanted to update our team at Connor Sports on my experience in Rio, so more than a bit groggy from many long days and nights working on the project, I sent the following in an email to our team:

With a moment to catch my breath after the installations, I wanted to send a quick note regarding the RIO2016 Basketball and logistics group I have had the opportunity to work with. The Rio 2016 Basketball Director and his team have been amazing. In all honesty, I was very nervous going down with all that we hear in the news in the U.S. But for me, and my experience, I have nothing but positive things to say about the planning, the facilities, and certainly the people.

From our site visit through the final installation of the courts, the basketball logistics group has been as detail-oriented and helpful as anyone I have worked with. The venue managers at each of the three respective locations — anything we have needed, they have provided. Each logistical group at Diodoro, Athlete's Park, and Carioca 1 were equally welcoming and helpful. I have met a lot of people, and each has made an event as large and important as the Olympics as enjoyable an experience as I have had. Not what I would have expected to report on the first Olympics I have had the opportunity to support. I know there is still much to be done over the coming weeks, but I look forward to going back and working with the RIO2016 Basketball group again. 

Sport has always held the power to unify and inspire and these games hold great promise to do so. We have a program for our Sport Court brand that we call Courts 4 Communities and over the years we have donated or refurbished courts around the world as part of our mission to use the power of sport to provide opportunity and joy for youth and needy communities. After my time in Rio, I more firmly believe in the power of sport and more importantly the power of people to make something great. 

Citius, Altius, Fortius!

Andrew Campbell is partnership and events director for Gerflor North America in Salt Lake City.

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