People all around the world have had this date circled on their calendars for a long time. Not just here in Chicago, but in Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio de Janeiro as well.
October 2nd, 2009 was supposed to be the day, at least in Chicago, that was the first day of the next seven years. Seven years of planning, construction, and excitement, all pointed towards 2 weeks of glory for the city.
What happened, instead, was a colossal disappointment for the city.
I stayed up late last night to watch Chicago's final presentation to the IOC, and woke up this morning to find out that Chicago was the first, yes I said first, city eliminated from contention by the same IOC.
I must say, I wanted to have the Olympics come to Chicago. It would have been our opportunity to show off the city to the world. We would have the chance to be the First City for 2 weeks. It would have been our chance to show the country and the world that we can have a world-class event.
To me, it would have been worth the construction, the headaches, the traffic, even the taxes. It would have been worth it to showcase the city of Chicago as one of the greatest cities in the world.
That all being said, I totally understand why a lot of people didn't want the Games. The traffic is bad enough in Chicago. They say there are two seasons in Chicago--winter and construction. Even during winter, there's still construction going on.
It would have been a multi-billion undertaking for the city. Back when the bid was launched in 2006, Mayor Daley said "cannot become a financial burden to the taxpayers of Chicago and Illinois. The goal is to have the Olympics be totally privately funded and we have unparalleled support from the business community."
Well, as Barry Rozner points out in today's Daily Herald, yet another Chicago politician lied to us, and the burden would have fallen on the Cook County taxpayers (hey, that's me). Whether or not the IOC took Chicago's financing blunders into account (I'm sure they did), I'll never know, but the fact remains: It was flawed.
After the news broke that Chicago was out, I headed to Facebook to see what the reaction would be among my fellow Chicagoans. It was mixed to say the least. A lot of people were devastated, and a lot were relieved. One of my Facebook friends brought up a very good point:
Give it to a city that actually wants it.
Fantastic point. It can't be anymore true, either. Back in February, the Chicago Tribune polled the city, and the vast majority of Chicagoans wanted the games. Then in a September 2009 poll, only 47% were in favor of the games. I'm sure this discrepancy was brought to the attention of the IOC.
So why was Chicago the first one out?
I must say, when I stayed up to watch the final presentation at 1:45 this morning, all I could think of was how corny Chicago's representatives were being. Now I'm no expert on Olympic bid presentations, but if I were a voting member of the IOC, I would have been somewhat offended.
I thought both of the Obama's made good speeches, but it was the nature of their appearance that may have offended the IOC even more. It wasn't until earlier this week that Obama decided to go to Copenhagen. Then immediately after the presentation, he jetted out of there.
HE DIDN'T EVEN STICK AROUND TO HEAR THE DECISION!!
If I'm a voting member of the IOC, that tells me how committed the federal government of the United States is to Chicago 2016.
Then, you factor in the last two Olympic experiences in America. Salt Lake City's 2002 Winter Games were marred by a bribery scandal, and of course you had a bomb go off in Atlanta in 1996.
Say what you want about the European dominance in the IOC, or South America never having an Olympics before. It's clear that Chicago's bid had a lot more flaws than people wanted to admit.
People want to fault Barack Obama for even going over to Copenhagen, and saying that it will ruin his presidency. Can you be any more naive? He's got many more prevalent issues on his plate, like healthcare, and the economy. I have no problem with him going over to Denmark to make his case heard. I wish he could have stayed a little longer.
The long faces in Daley Plaza were compounded by a Blackhawks loss, and the Cubs getting crushed. But hey, we still have the Bears right?
The IOC doesn't like Chicago anyway. In 1904, Chicago was going to host, but the IOC voted, almost unanimously, to move them to St. Louis.
Congratulations to Rio de Janeiro. Don't screw it up.