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Sports Then and Now

Rio de Janeiro Wins 2016 Summer Olympic Bid; Chicago Knocked Out First

Posted on October 02, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Stunned onlookers hear the shocking news that Chicago was the first city knocked out of the Olympic Bid Selections.

Stunned onlookers hear the shocking news that Chicago was the first city knocked out of the Olympic Bid Selections.

It wasn’t a complete surprise that the City of Chicago didn’t receive the invitation to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. However, what was a complete shock – and a punch to the stomach – was the fact that Chicago was the first of the four cities eliminated.

The bid eventually went to the City of Rio de Janeiro, meaning that 2016 will be the first time that the Olympics will be held in South America.

To many, Rio and Chicago were seen as co-favorites with it expected that the decision would be very close. The other two finalists, Madrid and Japan, were generally seen as long-shots.

Many thought that when President Barack Obama decided to become the first American President to attend the Olympic bid presentations, America may have sealed the return of the Summer Olympics to America for the first time in 20 years.

But that proved not to be the case. Evidently, America’s bid was not well thought of by the voting members of the International Olympic Committee and even a last minute appeal by an internationally popular president was not enough.

Now, of course, the question becomes why not?

There will certainly be plenty of commenting and speculation over the next few days as to whether Rio flat out won the competition with the soundest bid, if the Chicago contingent did something that lost it for the Windy City or if outside factors were just too much for Chicago to overcome.

Given that the games have never before been in South America, there was likely some sentiment that it was time for the games to come to town. The pictures of Brazil’s own sports legend Pele weeping with joy and more than 50,000 people screaming for joy in Rio following the announcement points to the sense of pride felt in Brazil and across South America for finally being told that they are worthy of hosting the Olympics.

You also cannot help but wonder if the troubles associated with the last two Olympics held in the United States also hurt the bid by Chicago. The games in Atlanta were marred by a bombing incident and the bribery scandal in Salt Lake City was an international embarrassment.

Also, the fact that the United States gained a very negative international reputation during the previous presidential administration, one that President Obama is slowly trying to rectify, also may have been more than could be overcome by one appearance from a first year president.

There also may have been some legitimate concerns over the specific bid by Chicago. While the other three finalists all had funding plans in place for some time, it was not until recently that the Chicago City Council agreed to cover cost overruns and not everyone in Chicago supported that decision.

Eventually the United States will host another Summer Olympics. However, this time it is someone else’s turn and it is vital to the continued reconstruction of America’s image that all Americans not look and act like sore losers and instead congratulate Rio on their winning bid and start preparing for a bid to host the 2020 games.

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