Posts Tagged ‘2016’

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my take on the 2016 Olympics

Wednesday 7 October, 2009

1st of all, hats off to Rio de Janiero, a choice that should have been a surprise to no one. It was a historic decision, naming the 1st Olympic site in South America.

However what did surprise me is Chicago being the 1st out of the running.  On the 1 hand, there is no way you can convince me that the Chicago bid was the worst of the lot & worse than Tokyo’s.  That Chicago received fewer votes than New York did in its bid for the 2012 bid is equally ridiculous, but at least partly indicative of the greater problem.

On the other hand, there are a number of reasons Chicago should have lasted only 1 more round.

  • In  the past American Olympic cities were the choice when the IOC needed/wanted the absolute maximum financial return.  That’s no longer the case.  The IOC believes they can make as much money regardless of where they go, & they might be right.  Regardless, we’ve lost our financial advantage.
  • I pass a good part of the responsibility for the IOC’s decision on to the US Olympic Committee.  There are a number of lingering issues that supposedly were not relevant, but with a secret vote, they most certainly played a role.  2 are particularly important.
  1. 1.  the dispute over distribution of advertising revenues is still unresolved,
  2. 2.  the decision to launch the Olympic TV network, despite IOC objections & rescinded shortly after it was introduced for that reason, did not endear the US choice to IOC voters. New York’s rejection 4 years ago can no longer be blamed on their stadium plan falling through.  The IOC membership has issues with how the USOC works together with the IOC & this needs to be resolved before another US candidate city has a chance.
  • Finally, part of Chicago’s failure is due to at least a small bit of parochialism & insularity.  We assumed it was a rational & reasonable process.  It’s not.  It’s intensely political & we don’t play very well in those circles.  Americans admitted to not knowing how the Olympic system works.  Rio supporters hypothesized that Madrid was the bigger rival because they recognized the political power of Juan Antonio Samarach.  They were correct when Madrid came in 1st after the 1st round.  I fault the US members of the IOC too.  There is much talk of all the back-room bargaining which goes on in these “negotiations.”  Where were the US representatives when this horsetrading was going on?  They certainly didn’t do a very good job.  The Pakistani IOC rep asked about visa issues entering the US, & the response was sloughed off to Pres. Obama, who answered with a vaguely general response which said nothing.  We ignored issues relevant to this constituency which should have been duly addressed.  We missed the boat since this was an issue.

So what can be done?  The IOC/USOC rift needs to be addressed.  The current system begs for more transparency.  Too much money is at stake for there not to be some accountability for each IOC representative’s decision to be divulged.  We could encourage American advertisers to boycott the Olympics, but they won’t do that because they’re global players & can’t risk alienating the rest of the world.

I’m disappointed but not surprised Chicago didn’t win the bid because the Olympics would have been great for the city.  I can’t believe the number of people who couldn’t see the benefits Seoul & Barcelona have enjoyed since they hosted Olympics. If I had to have made a prediction, it would have been for Rio because of the significance of the decision, but I was still rooting for Chicago.

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Alderman for & local organizer against the Olympics

Wednesday 16 September, 2009

I attended another Chicago Olympics event, Chicago 2016: The Thrill of Victory or the Agony of Defeat? this time @ the Chicago Historical Museum.  It featured Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, in whose ward much of the development for the Olympics would fall, & Jay Travis, the executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), which represents neighborhoods where much Olympic construction would happen as well.  The handouts included the documents created by The Civic Federation which reviewed the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, which can be found here & the summary here.

Here’s what was said that’s not contained in those documents:

  • the US federal government makes no investments before an Olympic city is named, only afterwards
  • an MOU is not legally binding, but an ordinance is the law
  • Jay is still concerned about displacement, rising prices, long-term employment, & eminent domain issues
  • 1/4-ly reports to the city council will provide transparency
  • the bottom line is the alderman believes that with the financial guarantees & insurance, the finances for the Chicago 2016 Olympics are secure.
  • Q&A resulted in typical Chicago town-hall fashion being reduced to incendiary accusations of the alderman’s husband benefiting from real-estate deals coming out of the Olympics.

What surprises me is that the community organizers fail to recognize the long-term economic benefits gained by hosting the Summer Olympics.  There are risks, & they are correct to have them addressed, but if Chicago can get the Olympics, I don’t think there’s any question it will be good for the city.

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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.