Wednesday, April 15, 2009

IOC in Tokyo for Evaluation, but Chicago Should Fear Rio

The IOC has moved to Tokyo to evaluate their 2016 Olympic Bid, but Chicago shouldn't fear the Japanesse. In our opinion, Rio poses the biggest threat to Chicago's chance to host the 2016 games.

We recently stumbled upon this great article by Universal Sports that summarizes the pros and cons for Rio's bid. As has been repeatedly stated, this would be the first ever Olympic games hosted in South America. That is a pretty powerful attribute and something that differentiates Rio's bid from the rest of the competition.

However, often lost are the cons associated with Rio's bid:
It's abundantly clear what Rio is up against. In a March, 2008 report assessing the merits of what initially were seven 2016 bids, that list cut a few weeks later to the four formally designated "candidate cities" that will be put to the Oct. 2 vote, the IOC itself noted, "Crime in parts of Rio de Janeiro was considered to be an issue for the safety of people attending the Olympic Games. Should Rio be selected as a candidate city, assurances regarding protection and safety of persons traveling through certain parts of the city would be required."

This, too:

Those "new markets for sponsors"? In this economic climate, how much sponsor money and interest will the IOC members figure can possibly be left over after the 2014 World Cup in soccer-mad Brazil for an Olympic Games just two years later? Moreover, why would the IOC, which seeks to get the benefit of every single day of the seven-year run-up from vote to opening ceremony, willingly cede five years of attention to FIFA, soccer's international governing body, and the World Cup?

Moreover, which of these observations are IOC members likely to remember most:

Lula (president of Brazil), speaking in London to The Times after his visit to Olympic Park at the end of the G-20 summit: "We are not a banana republic. Brazil has one of the most sound economies that many European countries do not enjoy today. I hope the international community will take that into consideration.”

Or Lula, speaking in Brazil in advance of the G-20 conclave, addressing the press at a news conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at which, according to the BBC, the Brazilian president said of the global economic turmoil:

"It is a crisis caused and encouraged by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything, but are now showing that they know nothing." Questioned by a reporter, Lula went on: "As I do not know any black or indigenous bankers, I can only say it is not possible for this part of mankind, which is victimized more than any other, to pay for the crisis."

The IOC, dominated by European interests, tends to note such slights. It tends to move cautiously. China got those 2008 Games only after coming up short in a first bid, for 2000, won by Sydney -- and in the 2001 vote for 2008, the one thing the IOC could be certain about was that in giving a Games to China they would be Organized flawlessly. And they were.
Yes, crime in Chicago is bad...but nothing like Rio. In terms of sponsorships, it's hard to expect Rio to compete with American (and Chicago) corporations. And this craziness about what their president (Lula) is saying...could you imagine if Obama said something like that?

All these things could play a role, but again having the first ever Olympic games in South America is pretty powerful. Only time will tell if it's going to happen in 2016 or in the future.

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