Monday, July 25, 2016

IOC Punts on Blanket Russia Ban

Armed with compelling evidence of systematic doping by Russian athletes with complicity of that country's government, the IOC took the unprecedented step this week of holding in abeyance all Russian athletes' eligibility for the Rio Olympics pending clearance by each athletes' international sport federation (IF).  In doing so, the IOC tossed the eligibility question vis-a-vis doping to the IFs, which must conduct a thorough vetting of each Russian athlete.  And, oh, by the way, the Olympics begin on Aug. 5.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Not Your Ordinary Field Trip to the Olympics

While in Rio, WNE students will have a unique opportunity to serve as international ambassadors at the Truce Foundation's gala awards ceremony in conjunction with the Olympics.  Awardees include retired Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander; Wilfried Lemke, UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace; and Anita DeFrantz, IOC member and rowing bronze medalist at the 1976 Olympic Games.  Among the honored guests will be U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Liliana Ayalde; Member of Parliament (UK), Lord Michael Bates; and USOC Chairman and IOC member, Larry Probst.   WNE students will actually be the backbone of this event hosted by Truce Foundation President Hugh Dugan, volunteering in various capacities as greeters, welcome desk reception, bartenders, AV support, awards and gift bag coordination, live-stream videography, photography, and personal minders of the awardees and guests.  Above photo is of several former WNE students from this same event at the 2012 London Olympics.  Talk about a chance of a lifetime to get up close and personal with movers and shakers of world sport and politics!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

T-Minus Two Weeks

In about two weeks, 14 students and two faculty will depart for Rio de Janeiro for what promises to be an experience of a lifetime.  The students have diligently prepared for this school trip to the 2016 Olympic Games, which included intensive bi-monthly meetings over the spring semester.  As part of this process, students received briefings, read books, watched movies, and conducted research about Rio, the Olympics, and Brazil's cultural and socio-economic dynamics at play on the eve of Rio's big summer bash.  In addition, they studied the business side of sport and learned how the Olympics have been leveraged to foment social change, particularly in developing countries.  Throughout the summer, the students took tests, completed their research, and wrote their papers, and have only to present their results to their fellow travelers at morning seminar in Rio.  My clear sense is that the students are ready, and excited to see for themselves how Rio will present itself to the world, and whether its multibillion-dollar gambit will be a boon or bust for the city and people of Brazil.

Honorary Delegation Member

Photo credit:  Michele Mariani

In the waning days before WNE students depart for Rio, Dean Rob Kleine (center) received BAIM/FIN junior Francesco Siniscalchi (holding torch) and Prof. Curt Hamakawa in the College of Business, where Dean Kleine was presented with the official delegation t-shirt and handbook, and consecrated as an honorary delegation member in the presence of the sacred Olympic torch!  Kudos to WNE Creative Director Deb Chappell, who produced the t-shirt design.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Bit About Rio

  • Rio de Janeiro translates to "River of January"
  • Nicknamed "Cidade Maravilhosa" (Marvelous City)
  • Locals refer to themselves as "carioca"
  • Rio's population is 7 million (14 million in the metro area), making it the second largest city in Brazil, after Sao Paulo 
  • More tourists visit Rio than any other Brazilian city
  • From 1815 to 1822, Rio was the capital of the Portuguese Empire, and from 1763 to 1960, served as the nation's capital (now Brasilia)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Song for Leblon?

Among other things, Rio is world-famous for its pristine white-sand beaches, the most well-known of which are Ipanema and Copacabana, probably owing to a couple of catchy tunes of yesteryear (although the song about the latter was really about a NYC nightclub).

An excellent a cappella version of "Girl from Ipanema" was posted previously, and Barry Manilow's disco-era "Copacabana" can be recalled here.  Stuck in the shadows of these two iconic beaches, however, is Leblon, situated on the western stretch of Ipanema and separated by an almost unnoticeable canal leading to a lagoon in Zona Sul.  Alas, Leblon awaits its song.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Calling All (Wannabe) Olympic Golfers

After a 112-year hiatus, golf won a hard-fought battle to rejoin the Olympic program for 2016, obligating Rio to build at great social, environmental, and economic cost a new golf course in the city's western suburb.  Now that the pristine 71-par, 7,350-yard course is completed, however, 17 (to date) of the world's premier golfers, including the top-four men in international rankings, have opted out of the Olympics for various reasons.  While this development amounts to egg-on-the-face for the International Golf Federation that lobbied for the sport's inclusion and the IOC that voted to reinstate golf to the Olympic program, the group left holding the bag are the people of Rio, who sacrificed some of region's most valuable land in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood for a sport that is culturally foreign and financially inaccessible to most Brazilians.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Shout Out to WNE Alumni Association

Another tradition of the CISB Seminar Abroad Program is to engage in community service in the host country.  For this trip our delegation, led by rising seniors Paul Harris and Paul St. Pierre, made arrangements with a local NGO -- Project Favela -- to help set up mosquito nets for families in underprivileged communities.  To help defray the costs of acquiring nets and supplies to take to Rio, the WNE Alumni Association responded to the students' request for assistance with a generous grant.  Muito obrigado to the AA of WNE! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

WNE's Vaunted Home and Abroad!

Per custom, each CISB Seminar Abroad creates its own distinctive t-shirts to commemorate the trip, and one of this year's designs features President Anthony Caprio in an Obama-esque poster style with a clever play on his name.  Kudos to Emily Painter '18, who produced the design effect!  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Welcome (Back) to Rio!

From the 2014 FIFA World Cup at Rio's famed Maracana Stadium, these WNE students exhorted the next class of students to sign up for the CISB Seminar Abroad Series, which is the first back-to-back program returning to the same city...although for a different event and with a completely different crew of students!

On the Bright Side....

Despite the deluge of negative press and other sour media accounts of Rio's challenges to hosting the Olympic Games less than a month away, The Wall Street Journal's Will Connors takes a sunnier view of things in his article, "An Optimist's Guide to the Rio Olympics."

Connors makes the point that Rio has hosted the Pan American Games in 2007, FIFA World Cup Final in 2014, the annual Carnaval and New Year's celebrations, in addition to hosting numerous global meetings, conferences, and summits.  Importantly, he says that public transportation is working, which will be something of a miracle during the Olympics in chronic traffic-congested Rio de Janeiro.  The writer declares that "The city is as beautiful as ever" and that "Rio's beaches, mountains and forests will dazzle tourists and athletes alike."

Western New England students will judge for themselves, but hopefully Connors is on to something that Olympic organizers have done a great job of keeping under wraps!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Olympic Security Dust-Up

Rio and its Olympic Organizing Committee must feel that it cannot catch a break.  Last week, police and firefighters took to Rio's GaleĆ£o Airport to vent their anger against the government for being late with their paychecks, some not being paid for months.  In an apparently effective campaign to bring media attention to their plight by demonstrating amid arriving tourists, this week Brazil's Federal Government authorized $895M in loans to help state and local officials ensure security for the Games, including budget relief to pay first responders.  As was the case for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, however, security will be a major presence throughout Rio during the time of the Olympic Games with 85,000 soldiers and police on duty, twice the number of London's 2012 Olympics.  While no country is immune from assault and no city can guarantee the safety of its residents and visitors, it has been said that an Olympic host city is one of the safest places on the planet during the time of the Games.