In a stunning development for those who thought that the combined "star power" of Obama, Michelle, and Oprah would clinch the deal, Chicago lost it's Olympic bid in the first round of voting this afternoon, garnering only 18 of 94 votes. Somehow, an embarrassingly large majority of voters remained unmoved by the First Lady's speech about her childhood feelings and ailing father, and the President's speech which included a heartwarming description of the "clear November night" when "people from every corner of the world" watched the results of the U. S. Presidential election with hope rising in their hearts.
Mysteriously, none of this produced the desired effect. Of several International Olympic Committee members interviewed after the vote, one said Rio's bid was better. Another said it was friction with the USOC. However:
Another IOC member, Canada's Richard Pound, disagreed.Sounds almost like Chicago politics, no? Odd that Daley didn't see it coming.
"I don't know that it says anything to them (the United States and the USOC)," Pound said. "When you look at the margin, it was clear there was an effort to make sure Rio got this, and the only meaningful threat to Rio would have been Chicago. So all the friends of Rio were urged to try and make sure Chicago didn't get into that position.
"I think there were a lot of people saying, 'If we don't get it, we'll support you but we've got to stop Chicago.' And that's sport politics, not anything else. It's election management. The Europeans and the Asians are much better at this (in the IOC) than we are. They are better at managing elections and thinking strategically. We kind of think if you've got the best bid, the world will recognize that, and these decisions are made solely on the merits of the bid. Well, not solely."
Nearly half of Chicago residents opposed Daley's Olympic plans, and according to a WGN/Tribune poll in early September, "residents increasingly and overwhelmingly oppose using tax dollars to cover any financial shortfalls for the Games, with 84 percent disapproving of the use of public money." But despite public sentiment and Daley's promises to the contrary, the City Council voted 49-0 to stick the citizens of Chicago with cost overruns.
So, a fairly large number of folks in Chicago are relieved that we won't be hosting Olympics. When we celebrate, in the spirit of today's irony, we should raise a glass to politics -- IOC style.