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June 03, 2020

Do not flinch in the face of adversity

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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Rio 2016 have urged National Olympic Committees to seek "non-traditional" forms of accommodation during next year's Olympics and Paralympics, such as rented apartments through their partnership with Airbnb.

Accommodation has become a major issue for many participating NOCs in recent weeks, with it forming a key issue at a Chef de Mission Seminar in the host city last month.

NOC Presidents and secretary generals were due to stay at the Barra Windsor Hotel close to the main Games venue-hub at Barra de Tijuca, but this has now become the official IOC Hotel, meaning NOCs will stay instead close by at the Windsor Oceanico.

This is a four-star rather than a five-star hotel, as the Barra Windsor was, meaning NOCs are due to be reimbursed the difference in price.

But despite this, there is still a shortage of rooms for other members of delegations, including other administrative officials as well as members of coaching and support teams.

This is often the case ahead of a Games, but has become more of a challenge than it was at London 2012 due to the lesser availability of hotels, or knowledge of potential problems.

One concerned NOC secretary general has told insidethegames that "first and foremost, the challenge is one of availability".

However, expensive prices are also thought to be a challenge, as well as the location of some options which are too far away from Barra and the other main venue hub to the north at Deodoro, both of which are around an hour's journey by car from the city centre.

All of this is a particular challenge for the smaller NOCs, it is thought, who have less finances and less resources to find appropriate options.

Speaking to delegates during last week's OCA General Assembly in Ashgabat, Rio 2016 NOC Relations Department continental manager for Asia and Oceania Sarah Paterson admitted there were challenges, but insisted how organisers would help NOCs in any way possible.

She urged them to look beyond hotels to apartments and other rented accommodation, claiming they could offer advice wherever needed.

This follows an agreement signed earlier this year between Rio 2016 and Airbnb, the online rental community which is offering as many as 20,000 "affordable" accommodation options, predominantly aimed at fans attending the Games.  

The Silicon Valley-based company, a website which helps people list and rent lodging, were named in March as Official Alternative Accommodation Services Supplier.

They will supplement the 40,000 rooms made available for Games clients, it is hoped, with Rio having boasted only half that many hotel rooms when the city was awarded the Games over Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo in 2009.

Another option for NOCs is to hire a company to help them find suitable accommodation on their behalf, with Foot in Brazil, a Rio-based consultancy set-up by former British Olympic Association official Tanya Harris, hoping to work with NOCs to do that.

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