Monday, February 2, 2009

The Lowdown of Chicago's 2016 Olympic Games Bid

In case you haven't heard yet, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will name the host city for the 2016 summer Olympics in just 242 days (October 2). When the final selection is made in Copenhagen, Denmark, four cities will be vying for the right to host the world's biggest sports event: Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tokyo, Japan; and, of course, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

If Chicago is selected—which just so happens to be the city where this blogger hails from--these will be the first summer games held on U.S. soil since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. As of June 4, 2008, Chicago has been named an official finalist in the running, with the Games slated to take place from July 22 to August 7, followed by the Paralympics from August 12 to the 28th.

It's still too early to predict the outcome, with some reporting that Chicago is somewhere in the middle of the pile, while others say the Games are Chicago's to lose. The mere fact that the 2012 summer Games are in London doesn't favor Madrid, since the IOC rarely chooses successive summer or winter games to be held on the same continent. Tokyo has hosted the 1964 summer Games, whereas neither Chicago nor Rio de Janeiro have hosted the Games at all (South America, actually, has never hosted any Olympic event, period). Other factors to be examined in choosing the host city will include proposed and current transportation schemes, infrastructure development (which, perhaps, explains why local authorities are so keen to expand the interminably congested O'Hare International Airport), putative funding, and others. Using these yardsticks, Chicago has a decent, if not great, chance at being selected, for it is a transport and rail hub of the U.S., one of America's richest cities, and a poster boy in recent months thanks to President Obama being a hometown native.

Indeed, history has shown that there is a high correlation between increased funding and respective presidents' hometowns during their terms, so it may be quite likely that Mr. Obama will be more apt to dole out an extra several million greenbacks to support the bid of his former “Windy City.”

Likewise, the fact that Mr. Obama's hails from Chicago is unlikely to hurt the city's bid in any way. Quite to the contrary, it is only likely to help it. And, if he gets to stay on for a second term—which, in any case, is too early to contemplate yet for all except, perhaps, Obama’s campaign manager, David Axelrod—Chicago's potential selection could prove to be one of 2009’s main highlights of his presidency, much like ex-Russian President Vladimir Putin's successful Sochi 2014 bid added fire to his already vast approval rating.

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