SAO PAULO -- The president of the organizing committee for the 2016 Olympics in Rio has dismissed claims that high-ranking officials knew that workers were making unauthorized copies of files belonging to organizers of the 2012 London Games.
Carlos Nuzman, along with CEO Leonardo Gryner, spoke to the media Thursday for the first time since the illegal downloads were reported last week. The news conference came amid increasing criticism from the public, local media and even local congressmen, including former Brazil star striker Romario.
Nuzman tried to make it clear that there was no wrongdoing by the any of the top officials at the 2016 organizing committee, especially after one of the workers who was fired told Brazilian media that she was instructed to access the documents and that her bosses knew about it.
The Rio committee acknowledged the employees had access to the files and could read them, but Nuzman said they were fired because they downloaded them without authorization from London organizers. The committee even released parts of the contract showing that the workers couldn't make the copies without previous authorization.
"The workers who were fired acted alone," Nuzman said. "Their bosses at Rio 2016 didn't know that the files were being copied without the authorization from LOCOG."
Although Nuzman and Gryner said that they wanted to provide as much information as possible about the case, they refused to name the employees who were fired or give details about the content of the copied files.
"We won't release the names because that's an issue between the employer and its employees," Nuzman said. "Firing them, without cause, was the adequate disciplinary action. We won't comment on the copied archives because they belong to the LOCOG."
The committee had said that it didn't think the employees intended to harm any of the organizations.
Rio organizers have been criticized for not punishing those responsible for the employees who were fired, as well as for not making the case public sooner and not giving all the details about what happened.
Brazil's sports minister Aldo Rebelo, the government official in charge of the country's preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics, called the episode "lamentable" and "unacceptable."
"I immediately spoke to the minister to let him know about what had happened," Nuzman said.
The Rio committee also released a message sent by Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London organizing committee, saying that "the unauthorized copy of files ... did not result in any major security breach or the compromise of any personal data. The case involved only a very small number of people and it was dealt with efficiently and effectively by the senior management at the" Rio organizing committee.
"This episode in no way reflects the actions or behavior of the vast majority of the Rio 2016 team who we have become firm friends with," Deighton said. "All documents were quickly returned and there has been no impact on the close relationship we have always enjoyed with Rio 2016 team, the Mayor and the Governor of Rio, and the government of Brazil."
Deighton said London organizers will continue to share any information needed by their Rio counterparts.
"We continue to have workshops, visits, telephone calls and knowledge transfer sessions with all departments and we are looking forward to the IOC debrief session in Rio in November," he said
The messaged added: "We are at the disposal of Rio 2016 team and their partners and want to share our structures, our experiences, our plans and our lessons with our counterparts in Rio. There is much that we can share and we have nothing but respect, friendship and cooperation with the Rio 2016 team."
The Rio committee initially said that 10 workers were fired, but Gryner explained that one of them had his dismissal reversed because London organizers later said that he had been authorized to download the documents.
The committee also said that it didn't consider that the files were "stolen," noting that London organizers never characterized it as such.
The 2016 Games will be the first in South America.