LONDON — In an embarrassing episode for the host of the next Summer Olympics, 10 employees of Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 committee have been fired after being caught stealing computer files from British organizers during the London Games.
British and Brazilian organizers said Friday that the Rio employees, working alongside London staff in the technology department, had downloaded internal documents without authorization. The Brazilians were working with London organizers during the July 27-Aug. 12 games as part of an official “transfer of knowledge program” between Olympic host cities.
“I can confirm there was an incident involving members of the Rio team who accessed and removed files without permission,” London spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle told The Associated Press. “We reported it to Rio management. They acted quickly to resolve the issue and return the files.”
The Rio committee said the 10 employees were engaging in conduct “contrary to the ethical principles and mutual trust shared by the two organizations.”
“Those involved were identified and the leadership of Rio 2016 and LOCOG acted jointly and quickly to repair the situation,” the Brazilian organizers said in a statement. “All of the documents were recovered and returned, and the employees were dismissed by Rio 2016.”
The committee called it an “isolated case,” noting that about 200 Rio employees were represented in London during the Olympics and Paralympics.
“All of the activities of Rio 2016 are guided by the principles of ethical behavior, responsibility and transparency,” it said.
The nature and content of the London files was not immediately known. However, London officials said the documents likely would have been provided to the Rio team had they requested them.
The Rio committee didn’t identify the employees fired but said none were in a managerial position.
Top-level London officials were notified of the downloading and informed Rio organizers, headed by Carlos Nuzman and Leo Gryner.
The incident was first reported Thursday by Brazilian journalist Juca Kfouri on the UOL.com web portal. Kfouri also is a columnist at the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Brazil’s largest. His report said the London files included information about strategic planning and security.
“It’s an issue between Rio and London which they have dealt with,” International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told the AP.
Rio, the first city in South America chosen to host the Olympics, sent teams of staff to London during the games to monitor the operations.
Disclosure of the stolen files comes two months before London and Rio officials gather in Brazil for the official “debrief” of the 2012 Games, a meeting where previous organizers provide the next hosts with all the information they need for staging the event.