Toronto, February 26 (CINEWS): Thousands of Canadian visitors are expected in Rio for this year’s much anticipated Olympics in beautiful Rio. It will naturally be an exceptionally busy time for consular staff of all nations. Canada’s Consul-General in Rio De Janiero since 2011 is Sanjeev Chowdhury who has everything under control. He’s seasoned and up to the task at hand. So much so that last year he was appointed Dean of the Rio diplomatic corps. This position puts him at the centre of everything.
In an exclusive interview with Can-India Sanjeev Chowdhury talks about the exciting times ahead.
Could you explain what the role of Dean of the Rio diplomatic corps entails?
In every city where you have foreign representation (embassies and consulates), a position called “Dean of the Diplomatic/Consular Corps” exists. This position is normally headed by the Ambassador or Consul General who has been in that city for the longest period of time. The Dean helps new diplomatic/consular arrivals to get familiar with the city, as well as, in my case, acting as chief representative of the consular corps in Rio de Janeiro in political discussions at the state and city level. This is a great position for Canada to hold given the upcoming Games, so I am very pleased to have been appointed Dean by the other consular missions a year ago, on March 26th, 2015. In Rio, the Dean is elected, so that was a great honor. Rio has 33 career Consuls General and 21 Honorary Consuls, so I represent the entire 54 consular missions as Dean.
What are some of the challenges associated with the Olympics, one of the largest events in the world?
Large events always present challenges for all countries. Our greatest challenge will be to ensure that our athletes and their friends and family arrive, compete and depart safely.
Will the Olympics be one of the busiest periods of any diplomat’s life?
Yes, it certainly will be! We are expecting 300 Olympians and 150 Paralympians, and of course they don’t come alone. They have a team to support them, so we expect a total of 600 people as the official delegation for the Olympics (300 athletes plus 300 support staff) along with 300 people at the official delegation for the Paralympics (150 athletes and 150 support staff). That doesn’t include friends and family and other Canadian tourists who will come to watch the Games. So, yes, there will be a big influx of Canadians to Rio for us to look after, but we’re up to the challenge!
You seem to thrive in high-pressure environments which means you must really be looking forward to the Olympics and all the excitement in entails.
I love a challenge, and I love company from home, which in this case of course is Canada. So, it’s a dream come true for me to be here to welcome all the Canadian athletes and visitors. I must add that I have met many athletes already in the lead up to the Games, and every single one of them has been so nice, down to earth, and inspiring. Canada can be very proud of the group of people we are sending to Rio to represent us, and I look forward to attending many medal ceremonies later this year.