Chicago not their kind of town
It’s not much of a surprise that Rio de Janeiro will play host to the 2016 Olympic Games. South America, sooner or later, was going to get its chance and today in Copenhagen, Rio nosed out Madrid for the honour after building momentum toward the vote in the past few weeks and, more importantly, the past few days.
What was a shock was that Chicago was the first town out the door, eliminated on the first ballot (Tokyo went down on the second) and what a shocker that decision is – not to to mention the size of the rebuke to U.S. President Barack Obama. He made the trip to Denmark, knowing full well Rio had been coming on strong lately and his absence woould have been viewed as a huge negative to the bid. The princes and bluebloods who run the International Olympic Committee expect to be addressed by heads of state and by nothing less.
Still, even Obama couldn’t help provide enough votes to last even the first round. Embarrassing to Chicago and to the U.S.
Madrid, with his Excellency, Juan Antonio Samaranch, the 89-year-old (but still powerful) past head of the IOC working hard for his native Spain, outperformed most expectations by reaching the final ballot. Samaranch made an emotional speech about making an old man happy one more time. But with the 2012 Games in London, not even the Eurocentric IOC would award back-to-back Games to that part of the world with other continents stepping up to the plate, demanding to be included.
Whether Rio’s coronation helps out Toronto’s 2015 Pan American Games bid, however indirectly, remains to be seen. The pro-Toronto spin would be that with the 2014 World Cup of soccer already in Brazil and now the 2016 Games, there won’t be any taste at all for heading to South America (either Bogota or Lima) in 2015. Plus, where would all the sponsorship dollars come from? Those multi-nationals not involved in the big show in ’14 will be trying to land a place in the ’16 circus now. The 2015 prize is extremely small potatos by comparison.
Undoubtedly, there’s a boost for Toronto’s Pan Am bid in one way: Rio held the 2007 Pan American Games successfully and obviously that was a stepping stone to today’s success in Copenhagen. The Toronto bid people can certainly lean on that fact if this city ever again tries to throw its hat into the Olympic ring.