SBD/Issue 242/Olympics

IOC Calls Chicago Bid To Host '16 Games Ambitious But Achievable

The IOC Evaluation Commission yesterday said Chicago's bid to host the '16 Summer Games is "ambitious but achievable," according to Donovan & Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The IOC yesterday released an assessment of the four cities bidding to host the '16 Olympics, which "praises the compactness of Chicago's proposed Olympic Village and 22 venue plan," and "calls the city's proposed budget achievable." The commission "even lauds the Chicago 2016 bid committee's work to ensure that no white elephants -- buildings that no longer serve any purpose -- are left standing after the Games," though it "questions whether plans for re-calibrating existing facilities, for example, might ultimately prove to be costlier." There are several other "questions about the city's bid." Perhaps the "biggest red flag for Chicago in the 90-plus page report" is whether the Metra commuter-rail service "can handle a near-doubling in demand that's expected during the 17-day event." The report indicated that the rail line is "key because it's expected it would handle two-thirds of the 'overall Olympic traffic' and that would 'more than double peak commuter traffic demands'" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/3). In Chicago, Hersh & Heinzmann note the report's "major criticism" of the Chicago bid "centered on Chicago's reluctance earlier this year to sign a blanket financial guarantee to cover costs" for the '16 Games. But the report was "written immediately after the IOC's early April visit, and at a June meeting in Switzerland," Chicago Mayor Richard Daley "personally pledged to IOC members that Chicago would sign the standard host city contract." Chicago 2016 Chair Patrick Ryan: "It's good to know that as they raise issues, there's nothing in those issues that we can't resolve or haven't already resolved." The IOC in its summary indicated Chicago needs an "extensive sponsorship program" to make the budget work, adding the "planned use of many temporary venues" is another risk (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/3).

PUBLIC SUPPORT DOWN: In Chicago, Lighty & Bergen cite a poll as indicating that support in the city for the '16 Games "has dwindled, with residents now sharply divided over whether the city should host the Games." About 45% of respondents "opposed Mayor Richard Daley's Olympic plans," while 47% supported them. Chicago residents "increasingly and overwhelmingly oppose using tax dollars to cover any financial shortfalls for the Games," with 84% "disapproving of the use of public money." The new results "show slippage from the 2-to-1 support found" in a February poll, and experts said that the findings "could hurt Chicago's chances." The poll consisted of a telephone survey of 380 Chicago registered voters from August 27-31 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/3). A CHICAGO TRIBUNE editorial states public support "may factor into the final decision" of the IOC in awarding the Games. Chicago "can reasonably protect its citizens, but fewer Chicago citizens are confident of that." There are "ways for Chicago 2016 to regain that confidence," and "transparency in the financial management of the Games is essential" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/3). A CHICAGO SUN-TIMES editorial stated Chicago 2016, "over time, has become more forthright with its finances, and now, with the host-city decision imminent, is the moment for the committee to take the final steps toward even greater transparency" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/2).

Concerns Raised About Rio de Janeiro Hosting
Games Just Two Years After '14 World Cup
THE OTHER CANDIDATES: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Hersh & Heinzmann note the IOC's evaluations for all four bid cities -- Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid -- "contained both praise and concerns, and no clear front-runner emerged." But some bid cities "may have more difficulty resolving Olympic officials' concerns" before the October 2 vote in Copenhagen. The IOC report "raised a relatively lengthy concern about the Madrid bid's grasp of some of the complexities of operating the Games," and among the concerns about Rio de Janeiro is the "possibility that hosting another giant global sporting event just two years before -- the 2014 World Cup -- might muddle the marketplace for corporate sponsors trying to hawk their brands." The IOC "praised Tokyo's bid as financially sound and well supported by transportation, but they raised questions about the size and location of the Olympic Village" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/3). Madrid 2016 CEO Mercedes Coghen said of the report, "I'm left with a bittersweet taste." The AP's Paul Logothetis noted of the four candidate cities, only Madrid's summary "ended with the comment that documents and presentations provided to the IOC during the visit were of 'varied quality.'" The other three were of "high quality." The IOC also said Madrid "did not demonstrate a full understanding of the need for clear delineation of roles and responsibilities, including financial, between stakeholders" (AP, 9/2).

NO REAL WINNER: The Chicago Tribune's Hersh said, "I would say that Madrid probably was a big loser today, or as big a loser as you can possibly have. It's not going to be a decisive factor in the votes. Rio probably gained. Chicago probably got slapped a little bit and Tokyo got slapped a little bit." But Hersh added, "I don't think this report is going to be the decisive factor in the vote on October 2nd" ("Chicago Tribune Live," CSN Chicago, 9/2). UNIVERSAL SPORTS' Alan Abrahamson wrote there are "no out-and-out losers in such reports because, as the IOC has emphasized time and again over the past year, all four finalists in the 2016 race are eminently capable of staging the Games." The report is "in a significant respect already too late," as the Evaluation Commission "made the rounds of the four cities in April and May." Since the report "deals entirely in shades of gray ... it does not yield rankings," and "does not even provide clearly articulated guidance and advice" (, 9/2).

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