April 11, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – The President of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) Tricia Smith announced today that Curt Harnett, Chef de Mission for TORONTO 2015 and one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians, has been named Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Former Chef de Mission Jean-Luc Brassard informed the COC that he was stepping down for business and personal reasons.
“It’s a great honour and privilege to be named Chef de Mission, and I look forward to bringing all of my Pan Am and Olympic experience to the table to support our athletes’ and coaches’ ambitions in Rio. I look forward to leading our incredible Canadian Olympic Team and working closely with the Canadian Olympic Committee to ensure our athletes have everything that they need to compete and win against the best in the world,” commented Harnett.
“I am so pleased Curt is coming on board for Rio. As our Pan Am Chef de Mission in 2015, he knows many of the athletes and coaches on the team and will be able to hit the ground running. He has an amazing passion for high-performance sport and an outstanding track record of success. His proven leadership and expertise will be key as we continue to build a culture of summer Olympic excellence to Rio 2016. He has our full confidence and the team is in great hands. I have had the opportunity to see Curt in action and he is inspiring. He is the right choice for this key role in supporting our Olympic Team in Rio,” said Smith.
Ms. Smith also announced that Olympic medallist Isabelle Charest, Chef de Mission for Team Canada at Lillehammer 2016, will support Curt as a newly named Assistant Chef de Mission for Team Canada. Isabelle will work closely alongside current Assistant Chef de Mission and Olympic wrestling champion Carol Huynh.
“It’s a role that I accept with humility, pride and enthusiasm because I will have the chance to share this responsibility with two Olympians whom I respect and admire: Curt and Carol. I’m eager to work with our athletes, coaches and the entire Canadian Team as we continue our journey to Rio 2016,” said Charest.
The role of the Chef de Mission and Assistant Chefs de Mission is to support athletes in a leadership capacity during the Olympics.
“Since becoming Chef de Mission, my professional obligations and other responsibilities have made it very challenging for me to manage time-wise. After much reflection, I have come to the difficult decision, and in the best interest of Team Canada, to step down as Chef de Mission. I arrived at the conclusion that I could not help the athletes to the extent that I would like. I wish Team Canada all the best in Rio and I have full confidence that Canada’s athletes will deliver outstanding performances. I also want to thank President Tricia Smith for her support; she is a women of integrity who has done tremendous work since she arrived at the COC,” explained Brassard.
“Jean-Luc is a great Olympian, passionate about the Olympic Movement and has made valuable contributions to Canadian sport both as an athlete and as an ambassador. He has also been a great supporter to me as we take a new direction at the COC and I thank him personally for that. Sometimes to get to the finish, it is a relay, not an individual race, and he has run his leg well. I respect his decision to now pass the baton into the hands of those who will take us to the finish line. On behalf of the COC, I thank him for his work on our behalf and look forward to working with him in the future,” added Smith.