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Chicago’s olympic obstacles

Tuesday 26 August, 2008

I caught with interest this article Chicago Olympic bidders share Beijing impressions by Kathy Bergen of the Chicago Tribune, which gave Mayor Daley’s & Chicago Olympic bid chairman Patrick Ryan’s observations on what Chicago will have to do to improve its chances of winning the 2016 Summer Games.  Here are mine:

Traffic-if the IOC is going to depend on local “express” ways to get specatators to events, it will take much more than a little education to get them there on time.  They’re a mess & will need a major overhaul to meet international expectations.  Competitor cities are crowded too, but ours are some of the worst in the nation.

Volunteers-There’s no way any other other city will match the sheer number of volunteers Beijing provided.  China is all about throwing masses of people @ problems, & no other country has that population to devote to volunteers.  I think the solution is multilingual ubiquitous technology (ex. wireless & kiosks) which should provide a lot of the information volunteers can, & will remain as valuable assets after the games are done.

Transportation-we had a really good rail system, but it’s pathetically managed, poorly maintained, & woefully underfunded.  It will take more than $ to shore it up.  It needs to be managed much more effectively.  We are competing with world-class public transportation systems, & the CTA looks pathetic by comparison.

Venues-This should be a real advantage for Chicago to show off its marvelous architecture.  Hopefully Chicago can utilize even more athletic facilities than are already planned, such as US Cellular Field, Ryan Field in Evanston, etc.

Residents-it will take a lot more than live sites to involve local residents in the games.  There are tons more tourists here than there were 5-10 years ago, & it looks like they get along OK here, but I think that’s in spite of many residents rather than because of them.  Midwesterners have the reputation of being very nice, which is probably true & helpful, but also very parochial & insular, which doesn’t help when people who speak with funny accents, or even in different foreign languages, ask questions on the streets.

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