Brazil official condemns theft of files

SAO PAULO -- Brazil's sports minister said Monday the theft of computer files from London Olympic organizers was "lamentable" and "unacceptable."

Minister Aldo Rebelo said the Rio 2016 committee acted "correctly to investigate the incident" and fire its 10 employees who downloaded the internal documents without authorization during the London Games.

Rebelo, the government official in charge of overseeing Brazil's World Cup and Olympic preparations, said in a statement that the employees' behavior does not represent the relationship of "trust and harmony" between the countries hosting the Summer Games.

It was the first time the Brazilian government officially commented on the embarrassing episode, which hadn't been made public by local organizers and was only confirmed after a report in Brazilian media.

The minister said he didn't think the episode would affect the relationship between Brazil and Britain ahead of Rio's preparations for the 2016 Summer Games.

"It's a lamentable episode involving two private entities -- the Olympic organizing committees of London 2012 and Rio 2016," Rebelo said. "The Rio 2016 committee acted correctly to investigate the incident, along with the London committee, to punish those responsible. The behavior of these people was unacceptable and does not express the attitude of trust and harmony which has marked the cooperation between the two countries in their preparation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

His comments came after Brazilian media published unconfirmed reports that London 2012 organizers were disappointed and planned to cooperate less with Rio now as opposed to before the episode happened.

"The United Kingdom, actually, has already approved the creation of a working group to act with the Brazilian government to relay its experience as host of the London Games to help Brazil overcome the challenges of preparing the Rio 2016 Games," Rebelo said.

The Rio 2016 committee did not say which types of files were downloaded or name the employees fired, only noting that they were not in managerial positions. London officials said Friday the documents likely would have been provided to the Rio team had they requested them.

The employees removed the files while working alongside London staff in the technology department as part of an official "transfer of knowledge program" between the Olympic host cities during the July 27-Aug. 12 London Games.

The Rio 2016 committee was heavily criticized for not disclosing the incident even though it happened more than a month ago. After Brazilian journalist Juca Kfouri reported the case, it released a statement saying that the employees were engaging in conduct "contrary to the ethical principles and mutual trust shared by the two organizations."

It also said "all of the documents were recovered and returned" after the "isolated case", noting that about 200 Rio employees were represented in London during the Olympics and Paralympics.