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Saturday, October 3, 2009

After All the Hyperanalysis...

Today's Chicago Sun Times has the first ten pages and half the sports pages dedicated to analyis and hyperanalysis of Chicago's loss of the Olympic bid. One Sun Times article called the Olympic snub an after effect of "anti American bias." That's interesting because I thought that all ended when Obama was elected. With every analysis, there was a different perspective. Rick Telander thought it was a rejection of Daley's arrogance. Of course, the murder of Derrion Albert could have played a role as well.

The reality is that no one knows but the IOC and they aren't speaking. It's just one of many problems in the process of being chosen and then ultimately putting on the games that I have seen in following Chicago's bid. Frankly, that the IOC is totally non transparent in their voting process is the least of my problems. Sure it probably means they are corrupt and it's likely that bribery is often involved and we learned it was in Salt Lake. Of course, that should just mean that less cities decide to participate. That doesn't seem to ever be a problem. For instance, Chicago started planning for the Olympics in the spring of 2006. So, if we were awarded the games, that would mean more than ten years of planning for a two week party. Does anyone else see a problem with that? It's hard to know what the price tag for the last two and half years was but it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million. We're told that was all private money but that's also hard to track. The city's current budget shortfall is $750 million. Does anyone else see a problem with a city spending a $100 million just to see if they can get the games?

Conservatives are now taking their potshots at the President. After all, he went to Copenhagen and Chicago was rejected anyway. Yet, what most Conservatives don't say is that the national leaders of all four cities went. In fact, Tony Blair went to pitch London in their eventual and successful quest to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. It's now a demand, unwritten of course, that the IOC see the national leader of the city's country in order to get the games. Some are saying that the prestige of the presidency was weakened by Chicago not getting the games. Here's what those that are saying this aren't saying. Had Obama not gone, Chicago wouldn't have gotten the games. (as it turns out it didn't matter) You can bet those same people would have blamed him for not getting the games. So, Chicago worked for two and a half years on the bid and then it was held hostage to a fifteen minute presidential appearance. Isn't that twisted? Isn't the process a bit twisted when the thoughts of Euro liberals now determine the prestige of the presidency?

The folks of Rio seem to be excited and I wish them well. I hope that in three or four years they will be just as excited. For instance, the host city contract that they signed means that the IOC gives them a fixed amount of money and Rio covers the rest. They plan on spending $14 billion by the end but projections seven years into the future are nearly impossible to make. So, Rio maybe stuck spending more than $20 billion to have a two week party. That's some party. The host city contract also means that all decisions must be approved by the IOC. So, for the next seven years, Rio is no longer run by Rio but by the IOC. In other words, every single Rio decision will now be approved by the IOC. So, the city of Rio, for the next seven years, will be run by the International Olympic Committee.

Here in Chicago there were a few marginal debates in trying to balance a plethora of new Olympics sites with the current natural habitat and with the citizens that had to be displaced to build them. That's a hard balance. That's of course because Chicago is a city and not a never ending sports complex. Cities aren't meant to be never ending sports complexes and yet that's what the IOC demands that any host city does. Beyond that, they have a contract that demands enforcement of their demands. It's not that easy to build a sports complex for every single sporting event known to man and also make sure that many of the citizens of your city aren't displaced, natural habitat isn't destroyed, and life isn't disrupted for years at a time. Yet, that's exactly what happens to any host city. Here in Chicago, several of the harbors were going to be closed for several summers in order to build the kayaking venues. That's one of hundreds of several issues for Chicagos' planning. So boaters couldn't enjoy the lake for several summers for a two week party. Again, that must be some party.

There is really something wrong when your city is turned upside down and every decision for nearly a decade is made with only one purpose, making the Olympics great. Yet, that's the Olympics process. Our mayor did little else in the last two and a half years and all he has to show for it is a trip to Copenhagen. The citizens of Rio are dancing in the streets now but once the full force of the preparedness of the Olympics takes hold we'll see how they feel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the end it probably just came down to 2 things:

1) South America has never received the Olympics before. Plus, most of the infrastructure upgrades will already be in place because Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup.

2) Its just too hard to get a US Tourist Visa right now. I'm sure there are plenty of Americans who would attend, but I think the IOC is looking for more than just Americans and visitors from countries wealthy enough to have Visa Waiver agreements with the US.