|October 6, 2009|
|What Happened to Chicago's Olympics bid?|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|What in the world happened to Chicago's Olympics bid? |
More importantly, what happened to President Obama's nose-counters? The White House political machine had to assume bagging the Olympics for Chicago was a done deal. Why risk a presidential loss of face by sending the first American chief executive to grovel before a bunch of haughty International Olympic Committee representatives?
The usual no-drama Obama made a dramatic, last-ditch trip to Copenhagen to make his hometown's case. The First Lady was thrown in to boot. Obama gave a strong emotional pitch for the Games, positioning a Chicago win as a way for America to reconnect with the rest of the world. Of course, many hope America is reconnected to the rest of the world well before the start of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The media will now chew over the political horse-trading that led to Rio's win and whether Obama suffers political ramifications over Chicago's loss.
Maybe, America simply deluded itself about Chicago being the odds-on favorite. Rio may have won the Games because a South American nation has never hosted the Olympics. Brazil's President Lula da Silva made an IOC presentation that equaled the emotional appeal of Obama. He talked about the IOC's potential to make history by granting the Games to Brazil.
"I honestly think it is Brazil's turn. It is South America's bid. This is a continent that has never held the Games. It is time to address this imbalance. It is time to light the Olympic cauldron in a tropical country."
Rio's victory also is a symbolic recognition of Brazil's growing economic clout as one of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations.
There also may have been some IOC reluctance to award the Games to the U.S. due to our recent shoddy track record. The Salt Lake City Games were marred by financial scandal. The Atlanta Games are remembered for the bombing and terror scare. Or perhaps, Pat Ryan, chairman of Chicago’s organizing committee, summed up America's defeat best. "It just wasn't our day to win," said Ryan. "That's just the way it goes. Some days you win, some days you don't."
Congratulations to Rio. Chicago gave it a good shot.
Chin up, Mr. President. Healthcare reform, climate change and Afghanistan beckon.
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