Archive for August, 2016

Rio, Chicago and Reality

August 4, 2016

The Olympics start Friday. ┬áBut this isn’t about the Games looming disaster-in-the-making, the venues that aren’t ready, the lack of security or the Zika outbreak. Of course, seven years ago, it was a different story.

Lets take a trip in the Wayback Machine, Sherman, to October 2009 and the International Organization of Criminals, er, I mean the International Olympic Committee’s awarding of the 2016 Games. The vote was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, with four cities bidding for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

The field had been narrowed to four – Madrid, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago – with Tokyo, Chicago and Rio the strongest of the three. Now, lets not kid ourselves here, the IOC is right up there with FIFA as far as transparency goes. The bidding process is more like an alternate universe, Spock-with-a-beard world where anything and everything, especially money, (as we found out with FIFA) goes.

Still, going into the last round of voting, hopes were high the bid would go to Chicago. After all, New York City had put in a strong bid for the 2012 Games, which went to London. In 2005, when the Games went to London, the New York delegation was disappointed but nobody blamed or mocked President Bush for failing to secure the Games.

Flash forward four years and the United States had a new President, Barack Obama, who was from Chicago. Or rather, his critics and skeptics asserted, lived in Chicago, where was he really from?  More on that in a bit.

The IOC, in its modern incarnation, resembles the mob more than an egalitarian sporting organization. Henry Hill and Michael Corleone would feel right at home in this world. The IOC is one of three entities which have “permanent observer” status at the United Nations. The other two are The Vatican and the Palestinian Authority. So, in a way, the IOC sees itself as a country. But a country without any boarders, rules or regulations (or taxes).

The bid cities each pay $500 million to submit their presentations. For the four cities bidding on this year’s games, that’s two billion dollars, tax free. The costs of these games were to be estimated at $700 million, the actual costs are much higher. The 2004 Athens games, which still are being paid off, is partially to blame for the Greek economic problems 12 years later. Venues are built and then never used again. Does the IOC reimburse these countries that host the Games? You must be joking!!! Much like FIFA, all revenues generated from the Olympics go to them. Montreal, which hosted the 1976 Games, finally paid their bills 30 years later.

So, in 2009, the stage was set for yet another “vote.” Except this was a star-laden affair with such luminaries as Pele and Oprah accompanying their delegations. Also, the newly-minted President Obama made an unprecedented appearance at the meeting, raising hopes that Chicago would prevail.

It didn’t. The Windy City was eliminated in the first round of balloting. Unlike four years earlier when New York lost, President Obama got skewered at home. Rush Limbaugh and Bill Kristol (of the Weekly Standard), among others, were over the moon about the perceived loss by the President.

LIMBAUGH: “For those of you on the other side of the aisle listening in who are upset that I sound gleeful — I am. I don’t deny it. I’m happy. Anything that gets in the way of Barack Obama accomplishing his domestic agenda is fine with me.”

OK Rush, we’re still waiting for you to move to Costa Rica.

And, the Weekly Standard had an equally magnanimous reaction: “Soon after news broke that the International Olympic Committee had rejected Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics, which President Obama had personally lobbied for, Weekly Standard blogger John McCormack published a celebratory post on the magazine’s blog, titled “Chicago Loses! Chicago Loses!.” McCormack wrote that “Cheers erupt at WEEKLY STANDARD world headquarters”

Others, like Lonesome Rhodes Glenn Beck and Fox News were cheering the fact that Obama had lost. But that wasn’t the reality. Of course, they never cared about reality much in terms of this President.

Here’s the reality: Chicago’s bid for the Summer Games lost because the IOC, as an institution, has a very long memory. They remember Atlanta in 1996, the half-done facilities, the logistical nightmare of trying to get into a city you can’t get into and the Olympic Park bombing. Plus, the revolving door at the head of the United States Olympic Committee. No one knew from one minute to the next who was in charge. Peter Ueberoth, credited with helping “save” the Olympics in 1984, was replaced in 2008. Had he been the head of the USOC instead of Larry Probst, Chicago might have won. The Europeans who run the show aren’t too fond of America and the last two defeats for both NYC and Chi-town prove that no matter who’s President, the IOC doesn’t want the Olympics here.

But, of course, never let the truth get in the way of a narrative.

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