Sunday, October 4, 2009

Four Score, And Seven Years From Now

In the minutes before the International Olympic Committee first-round voting for the 2016 Olympic city on Friday, in an live, on-screen action that seemed a cross between a game show stunt and a nightly Georgia Lottery drawing, Chicago was labeled "four" on the electronic election devices used at the IOC Session in Copenhagen.

This "four" selection -- with Rio de Janiero, Madrid and Tokyo drawing six, seven and eight -- told the voting IOC members what button to push on their voting machine, and half-way around the globe, the notation of "four" inspired several dozen folks (among thousands) at Chicago's Daley Plaza to hold aloft four fingers, with spontaneous chants of "we're No. 4" in jest, as the voting started.

It's widely reported, and completely safe to say, no one anticipated Chicago's elimination from the bid process moments later, with the first round knockout by just a few votes. Actually, (perhaps ironically?) by only four votes.

Standing in the Plaza that morning, at the moment IOC President Jacques Rogge announced Chicago was out, it was deafening silence across the throngs of witnesses on site. I will not soon forget how, in those few seconds of silence, news helicopter rotors chopped the autumn sky louder and louder before WMAQ-TV Chicago NBC 5 cut to Phil Rogers, who was also standing with large eyes, jaw dropped and breath briefly taken away.



And as Kevin Kline's Oscar winning character in "A Fish Called Wanda" would say, "DISAPPOINTED!"

But also, no regrets -- I would gladly repeat and re-invest volunteer time (about 100 hours during the past year), resources and financial contributions to the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid if asked to do it all again (part of me started hoping they will try, but Chicago Mayor Richard Daley dashed those 2020 Olympic bid wishes with his apt statements upon return to O'Hare from Copenhagen).

And I am honestly pleased that Rio de Janiero will host the Games of the XXXIst Olympiad in just seven years. Obrigado, IOC!

As I understand it, according to an IOC press release and published reports, the first round voting for the 2016 Olympic host city was ...

TOKYO - 22

TOKYO - 20


One of my Olympic circle friends theorizes that McDonald's, a Chicago-hometown corporation, did not have as visible a presence with the 2016 Chicago Olympic bid process as did Coca-Cola, a fellow worldwide TOP sponsor of the IOC, did for the 1996 Olympic bid presented and won by Atlanta. I've reflected on the suggested "Ronald McDonald" factor in the 2016 bid, and though I concur McDonald's was not as visible with the '16 bid, this may be by design (the 1996 Olympic bid, after all, took some flak -- especially from runner up Athens, Greece -- as "Coke bought the IOC" in the wake of the Centennial Games selection process).

I believe the first round was split just about the way many Olympic bid pontificators indicated (a very close four-way race). I just didn't think that four votes would spread among Chicago's competition as they did. Some thoughts on where those votes went instead of The Windy City:
  • The questions the IOC members asked of the Chicago bid presenters (in the very early hours CST on Friday morning, aired live from Copenhagen on Chicago's WGN-TV and other network affiliates) hint that the geographic spread (a proposed venue for Chicago 2016 as far away as Madison, Wis.) was a potential item of concern for at least one voting member. (one vote)

  • There's some decades-long allegiance to IOC President for Life Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC delegate to Spain, whose son is now on the IOC scene with a Madrid 2016 connection. (one vote)

  • As Chicago 2016 leader Pat Ryan stated on his NBC5 interview with Phil Rogers after the loss, in the Western Hemisphere, most IOC votes south of Mexico went to Brazil. (two or more votes)

Of Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo, the phrase "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" rings true on so many levels. In the case of Tokyo, a former host city, and Madrid, in a nation that hosted the 1992 Olympic Games at Barcelona, a new or renewed appreciation for the past hosting duties may be on the minds of Spanish and Japanese Olympic observers.

I love Chicago and remain thankful that the Chicago 2016 bid effort led me to learn more about the city in-depth (in the last six years, travel took me there an average of three times annually, and some bid volunteer gigs provided even more reason to learn the city of late, including the lessons of the IOC Evaluation Commission in April).

Flying into Chicago on Thursday morning, our flight path took us right over all of downtown Chicago's gorgeous lakefront real estate at sunrise. I will always wish the IOC could have seen the city that morning -- Chicago can be a great future destination for the Olympic Movement.

For certain, in time, more reflections on "what could have been" are likely to come to mind. In the meantime, I'll be sampling some additional brands of cacha├ža and practicing Portuguese in spare time.
Veja-o em rio em sete anos.

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