Our experts share their must-see events for Rio 2016

Jacqueline and Luc recommend their five must-watch events for Team Canada fans from now until Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony on August 21.  

JacquelineJacqueline Doorey
Associate producer at CBC Sports
When asked for her favourite sports, Jacqueline has a hard time picking one: “There are so many!” After some thought, she says: “Indoor volleyball is my favourite… or women’s basketball. Don’t ask me to choose!” Jacqueline joined us about a year ago just in time for the Toronto Pan-Am games. This summer, she’ll have her eyes on Rio.


LucLuc Lebel
Executive Producer, Sports, Radio-Canada
As the person in charge of Radio-Canada’s Olympic TV coverage, Luc says his life over the past few months can be summed up in one word: “Busy!” And he speaks on behalf of his entire team: “It’s a great group of passionate people who are enthralled by sports and new challenges. They really love what they do.”

Their recommendations:

11Rugby Sevenspicked by Jacqueline
Rugby Sevens is a new sport at the Olympics, but Canadians have another reason to get excited about it. Internationally ranked no. 2, our country has “a really strong women’s squad and they’re in really great pool”, says Jacqueline. Competing first against Japan, Brazil and Great Britain, “Canada is starting with the upper hand.”

First match (women) August 6 at 11:30 a.m. ET against Japan

22Three-metre synchro — picked by Luc
Members of Canada’s Fab Four diving team, “Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware are likely to give Canada its first medal as of day 2,” says Luc, who also expects Abel to capture another medal on August 12 in the three-metre individual event. “She could become the first Canadian female diver to win a medal in individual springboard since Annie Pelletier.”

Synchronized 3m springboard (women): August 7 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Individual 3m springboard (women), preliminaries on August 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET

33Beach volleyball picked by Jacqueline
“People don’t necessarily associate beach volleyball with Canada”, says Jacqueline. But recently, “Canada has been absolutely killing it.” Our country is one of only four that have qualified the maximum allotment of athletes, including the impressive Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley. And “they’ve said they’re going to Rio to get on the podium.”

First match (men) on August 6 at 10:00 a.m. ET against Brazil
First match (women) on August 7 at 2:30 p.m. ET against Netherlands

44Track cycling picked by Luc
Luc raves about cyclist Hugo Barrette: “We’re talking about a guy who came inches from death while training last year. He managed to qualify for Rio on the last chance he had in one of the most high-profile competitions of the season.” Hugo was featured in an inspiring report about resilience in sports as part of the Je vais à Rio series.

First round of the keirin (men) on August 16 at 9:18 a.m. ET

55100-meter sprintpicked by Jacqueline and Luc
With a personal best time of 9.92 seconds, Andre de Grasse is “Canada’s golden boy for the 100 meters”. In the year and a half leading up to the Games, “Andre quit school, moved to a new country to train with a new coach, and signed a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract with Puma… It will be interesting to see how this 21-year-old kid from Markham, Ontario deals with the pressure.”
In Luc’s opinion, the men’s 100 metres is the “showpiece event of the Games.” And for good reason: “For the first time since 1996 in Atlanta with Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin, we have a shot at a medal with Andre de Grasse.” Why all this enthusiasm for Andre? “Andre made a name for himself at the Pan-Am Games and cemented his status at the world championships. If he takes home a medal, he’ll be a serious candidate to unseat Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin.”

100-meter sprint (men), preliminaries on August 13 at 8:30 a.m. ET

Are these the sports you had on your list? Do you have other suggestions for must-see events?

– Julien Faille-Lefrançois, Writer-editor, Enterprise Communications

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Experience the pivotal moments thanks to our partnership with Twitter Amplify

In 2014, Canadians flocked to the CBC and Radio-Canada websites and our Olympic Games app in unprecedented numbers (over 636 million views in total) to watch the action from Sochi. For Rio 2016, we’re pioneering ‘social television’ as our latest digital platform for Olympic Games content, to help extend the reach of our broadcast and online coverage.

Thanks to a partnership with Twitter Canada, we’ll offer Olympic Games highlights as near-live video clips embedded in tweets. Each clip will be preceded by a six-second video pre-roll that will generate revenue from sponsors (Canadian Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee partners). Prices will be tied to the potential audience exposure for different moments from the Games.

“Our sports team will be working around the clock throughout the Games, looking for compelling content to upload to Twitter,” says Heather Gordon, director of digital sales. “We already reach a mass audience for our Olympic Games coverage. Using Twitter Amplify will help ensure we also reach and engage our audiences across multi-platforms in real time to capture the thrill and emotion of Rio 2016.”

Twitter’s targeting capability will allow us to engage Canadians who are following Olympic Games-related stories on Twitter but are not yet connected to our dedicated @CBCOlympics and @RC_Sports accounts, which will feed our ‘social television’ tweets.

“Twitter has 12 million unique visitors a month. Having the first-ever Twitter amplification in the Olympic Games will help us engage our ever-expanding digital audience and monetize their viewing habits. This will be a game-changer,” says Errol Da-Ré, head of CBC’s Olympic Games sales team.

– Elizabeth Forster, Senior Advisor, Client Services, Enterprise Communications

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Rio 2016: Risky Business

As Canada’s Olympic Network, we’re excited and proud to be sharing the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Canadians. Faced with multiple security risks associated with travelling to Rio de Janeiro – everything from pickpockets to the Zika virus to large-scale security threats – we are heading over with specific plans and strategies to keep our employees safe while they do their jobs on the ground.

So who better to explain how to allow for “business as usual” when you’re surrounded by potential risks than Benoit Suire and Harris Silver, two high-risk deployment managers for our media lines (French and English, respectively). As far as risk management goes, they have been there and done that. Both come to their roles at the public broadcaster with extensive military experience: Benoit in the French Ministry of Defence, where he also spent time in West Africa, Afghanistan and other deployments; and Harris in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as with the UN.

What goes into security planning in preparation for Olympic Games?

Harris Silver : We’ve been working on the security aspect of the Games for well over a year. It all starts with a risk assessment of the location and tasks to be done (for example news gathering, sports coverage, programming, etc). We then try to determine the hazards and the probability of them occurring; and, of course, the impact if they do occur.  We then put in mitigation measures to bring the total risk to a level that is tolerable for the Corporation and the individuals who are deploying.

Benoit Suire : First and foremost, it’s a team effort that involves developing a synergy and expertise within a larger context – that of the Olympic Games. We want to create a consistency between the opposing realities of Canada and Brazil. We want to ensure that our news crews can serve the Canadian public from Rio as well as they would from anywhere in Canada.

It’s also important to develop a relationship with our hosts. My past experience has proved that direct contact, and even immersion when possible, with locals is a long and important tradition that shouldn’t be overlooked. More often than not, it benefits everyone when it comes to risk assessment and adapting our behaviour accordingly to make sure we act appropriately and respectfully. After all, we are their guests.

What are the main security risks and recommendations?

Benoit Suire : The risks in Rio are numerous: petty crime, theft, assault, prostitution, and fraud are the more significant, not to mention health risks associated to the possible exposure to the Zika virus.

Unfortunately, the economic realities of Brazil right now have boosted crime and the Olympic Games provide criminals with an opportunity to diversify their income.

As simple security precautions, we are asking people to: travel in groups, inform colleagues of their whereabouts, use the Olympic shuttles for transportation, and that sort of thing. We obviously have a robust set of recommendations and procedures that we share with anyone who is going to be over there on the ground.

How do you prepare the teams that are being deployed to Rio?

Benoit Suire : All of our employees are briefed and trained before departure to ensure that we are all on the same page. We realize that sometimes the security restrictions that we impose can seem cumbersome, but we do not make them needlessly.

Harris Silver : What we try to do, in terms of both training and approach, is to educate our teams on the risks they are taking and how to reduce the levels of risk to a level they are comfortable accepting. This allows them to go out and effectively get the great stories that they do and still come back to do it again.

Benoit Suire

Thank you to Harris and Benoit for taking the time to share with us. As the games quickly approach, we’d like to take a moment to thank all of our employees who continue to work tirelessly. Your dedication is inspiring and we remind you to stay safe! For those of you travelling to the games, we will have regular updates and any breaking information on our internal site as well as a crisis line, should it be needed. If you are following the games from home, follow us on any of our social media accounts for up-to-the-minute coverage of all things Rio 2016.

-Jennifer Bradbury, Senior Specialist, Internal Communications
-Christena Morrell, Senior Specialist, Internal Communications

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#Startupfest : How to pitch like a pro

For the last three years, CBC Montreal has been challenging young aspiring business owners to impress them at Startupfest. CBC Montreal set up a Media Pitch Tent at the Festival and gave start-ups a chance to hone their product pitches by practicing them on seasoned journalists.

Media Pitch Competition

The entrepreneurs battled it out for the chance to be crowned the winners of the Media Pitch Prize. This title, while amazing in it’s own right, also came with the bonus of being featured on CBC’s platforms. As an emerging Canadian company, national media exposure can be a really big break. Oh and did I mention that there was one other challenge? The pitch could be no longer than one minute.

“Pitching to local media is very different than pitching to an investor and the start-ups know that,” said Debbie Hynes, Regional Communications Manager, CBC Montreal. “After their pitch, they get practical advice and feedback on how to better tell this story. That’s invaluable for them.”

This year it was Bhaskar Goswami who blew the judges away, pitching a website called daana that connects people to free wellness classes happening near them. The site lists classes like meditation, chanting, yoga and self-defense. After attending a class, people receive an email asking if they’d like to give some money to daana to pay the teachers of future classes.

Past recipients of the Media Pitch Prize include GymBirds and Tailor 2 Go.

-Sarah Lue, Social Media Advisor, Enterprise Communications

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Stepping up our game for #Rio2016

What do Canada’s athletes have in common with technology staff at CBC/Radio-Canada?

“We step up our game at each Olympic Games,” says Lorraine St-Germain, Senior Director of Telecommunications, Technology Solutions with the Media Technology and Infrastructure Services (MTIS) group (she’s shown in the photo below with Michel Béland and Mathieu Rochon).

111 blogSince pioneering the use of remote server technology at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, we have earned a reputation among international broadcasters for being truly innovative with our production technology at the Olympics.

The Internet Protocol (IP) technology we will use this summer is a perfect example of that innovation. It will transport our live audio and video feeds (in real time) and our data traffic from Rio 2016 to our studios in Toronto and Montreal. The plan is for those primary feeds sent on a diverse, software-defined wide-area network (WAN) using IP connectivity, to interconnect seamlessly with our studio equipment back in Canada, where they will be packaged for presentation and broadcast as our Olympic Games coverage on television, radio and the web.

IP technology is already well-established in the IT world. Now, the growing convergence of broadcast production technology and IT offers us the opportunity to replace our legacy, purpose-built broadcast production equipment with a more flexible, scalable and cost-effective alternative – one that supports real-time audio and video feeds and non-real-time data traffic – based on IP technology.

Our new IP-based network is a team effort. It was designed by:


Michel Béland (senior project manager, Telecommunications)
Mathieu Rochon (master maintenance technician, Production Solutions)
Brian Johnston (supervising engineer, Infrastructure Solutions)
Rob Bunn (technical producer, Media Operations and Technology)

Michel is focused on transporting signals from point A to points B and C, and making sure the network doesn’t go down. By his own account, he is always looking one or two Olympics ahead. Brian works closely with local studios in Toronto and Montreal to serve their production and digital programming needs. Rob helps everyone else do their job and stay on track. As a representative of the Olympics Resource Group, he also brings the latter’s production needs to the table. Mathieu designs the remote installations for radio, TV and digital broadcasts overseas and works to ensure our global workflow for production at Rio 2016 operates smoothly. As the others laughingly agree, Mathieu also fixes their overly “crazy” ideas to ensure that our plans stay on track for success. It’s clear from their banter that they enjoy working together.

So after all the months of planning, what’s their biggest hope for Rio 2016?

Rob: ”Once we get into Day One, I hope that Mathieu and Michel are the most bored employees at the Olympics. And I’m confident this will be the case.”

Brian: ”That we have leeway to experiment and test on the signals in Rio. The better we execute on the Games we’re doing – the more we get right – the more we get to test for the next Olympics.”

In other words, that we step up our game, as usual. Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes coverage and interviews as we get closer to Rio!

– Elizabeth Forster, Senior Advisor, Client Services, Enterprise Communications

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