Providing support during the Paralympic Games in Tokyo earlier this month was an experience like no other, state two members of EllisDon’s Infrastructure Services and Technology (EDIST) team.
The EDIST team worked in collaboration with the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) to operate the facility in the village where 128 Canadian Paralympians resided during the Games.
“The basic objective was to make sure the environment the athletes were a part of exactly serves their needs, specific disabilities and making sure, with the CPC, that they had what they need,” said Diana Mokhallati, business development manager with EllisDon Facilities Services. “It’s really a very organic environment, all hands on deck. All the pre-planning that was done helped us to be ready, but nothing comes close to being at the Games where a lot of parameters come into play. That really changes things and that’s really where our expertise and the technology that we use helped a lot because it helped the CPC make their processes more efficient.”
EllisDon’s scope of work included concierge support, Games scheduling, furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E), inventory management as well as village space pre/post occupancy inspection services, explained K Paez, director of business assurance and transformation for EllisDon Facilities Services.
The team members staggered their stays in Tokyo so they could be there pre, during and post Games. While they were well prepared, there were things they couldn’t plan for.
“Ultimately we delivered what our scopes of work were,” said Paez. “From personal discussions with the CPC and its members and even the athletes that I was able to meet and engage with, they were very happy with what they saw. They know that what we want for them is just to focus on their game and we want them to perform to the best of their abilities.”
She used an analogy to describe the experience.
“What the athletes saw was this swan that was the CPC gliding through the smooth lake in these Games, but underneath there were all these little legs moving as fast as they could to ensure that things were seamless and well put together, and that there wasn’t a lot issues that the officials and athletes themselves would have to deal with,” Paez explained.
“The intent was to have a centralized location where athletes and officials felt comfortable coming in and making requests about their stay,” Paez said. “We would then take those requests and ensure that the right party or individual was made aware and took action on the request.”
In terms of FF&E the team helped the CPC make sure the rooms had the furniture athletes required and the layouts they needed.
“There was a lot of preplanning involved and making sure we pre order all the elements,” said Mokhallati. “There was the ordering of the furniture in another country. It’s a different way of procurement. The CPC was leading but we were helping identify the right furniture elements that were needed.”
The scope of work also involved pre and post inspections of the structure as the building was also occupied by the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Olympic athletes prior to the transition for the Paralympic teams.
“You have these inevitable wear and tear issues,” said Mokhallati. “You had damages in the rooms that had to be addressed. In addition to that you have the accessibility issues that need to be addressed. Unlike the athletes for the Olympics, who are fully abled and do not need a lot of support, the Paralympic athletes need disability ramps to the balcony. You can’t have a wire hanging or loose in the room.
“For the post inspection we had to make sure we are handing over the building in a decent state as we received it.”
The EllisDon team helped with game scheduling. They also used technology to increase efficiency and consolidate information.
“The lessons learned and the best practices that we actually acquired from the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015, in addition to our exposure to operations projects throughout our portfolio, helped inform how we can deal in such an organic, active, very fast-paced environment that we were a part of,” said Mokhallati.
In addition, COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures added another layer to deal with. Language and communication was also an issue.
In the next few months EDIST will be discussing the possibility of engagement and involvement with future Games such as the Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing in March 2022.
“Tokyo was a case study for us to ensure we understood the requirements of the delegation and for us to take stock of all of these things that you cannot plan for,” said Paez. “We have discussions that are going to happen that will lead to what the way forward is going to look like.”
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