The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

An Olympic Wind Blowing in 2016?

Posted by demkid on October 1, 2009

The 2016 Olympic Games will be awarded tomorrow to one of four cities: Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, or Tokyo.  A quick check of the evening odds shows that the bookies have Chicago as the favorite at 4/6 (or a 60% chance), followed by Rio, Madrid, and Tokyo bringing up the rear.  I think it’s safe to say that Tokyo is out, and should be the first city eliminated in the voting tomorrow.  There doesn’t seem to be overwhelming public support for the Tokyo bid (only 55% of citizens in favor), and the fact that the 2008 games were in Beijing doesn’t help matters.  The same kind of logic can be used for Madrid, as I doubt the IOC will want a European games back-to-back.  Spain hosted in 1992, and it would also be the fifth in seven summer and winter Games in Europe. 

So, barring some shocking turn of events, this all should come down to Rio and Chicago.  No city in South or Central America has ever held an Olympics, and that works hugely in Rio’s favor.  Lots of IOC members want the Olympics to be looked at as truly a world event, and awarding Rio with the Games would go a long way to achieve this goal.  However, Rio has issues with crime, and a ton of work would have to be done to revitalize the city.  Chicago is probably the safest choice.  There’s lots of support and the money situation is the best out of the four cities.  There have been issues with disorganization however, and it might not quite be time for another Games in the U.S., 20 years after Atlanta and with Salt Lake in between.

As some of you may recall, Paris was favored going into the IOC meeting four years ago, but London walked away with the 2012 Games.  It’s far from a certainty that the 2016 Games will be in the Windy City.  However, I think it all comes down to two things.  First, no matter how much it’s been downplayed, President Obama’s visit tomorrow morning will be a factor.  A new American president, popular in Europe, is a huge asset for the Chicago campaign.  (It also doesn’t hurt that Chicago is his adopted hometown!)  A correlation can be made between this meeting and the one that decided the host for the 2006 World Cup.  There, the German chancellor did some last minute lobbying and pushed Germany over South Africa by 1 vote (from what I recall.)  Even though Chancellor Schroeder was no Barack Obama, lobbying by an influential head-of-state matters.  Second, also World Cup related, is the fact that Brazil will be the hosts of the World Cup in 2014.  Sure, this can be a positive because the country will have built up some infrastructure already, and it can be looked at as a test run for the larger spectacle of the Games, but in my mind, it’s a net negative.  I think more IOC members will go against Rio, reluctant to have the world’s two largest sporting events in the same country, two years apart. 

Tomorrow, I think the Summer Games come back to the States.  If they don’t, at least I went with the odds!  For a good list of the pros and cons of each of the four cities, see this article from SI.

Update: Well, Chicago was eliminated after the first round of voting.  I’m not going to speculate, but I’m sure the Right will have fun with this one.  Congrats to Rio!

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One Response to “An Olympic Wind Blowing in 2016?”

  1. My friend was just telling me a similar story. What a small world huh?

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