Chicago bid falls flat

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COPENHAGEN, Oct 2 – In the end, not even the presence of United States President Barack Obama, the most powerful man in the world, could deliver the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. OBAMA

Indeed the 95 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) delivered the most extraordinary snub to the American city which was eliminated in the first round of voting here on Friday.

Many different outcomes had been predicted but not one that saw Chicago swept out in the first round.

The President and his wife Michelle, who had come over on Wednesday to lobby IOC members, were already on their way home on Air Force One when the result was announced.

His plea to the IOC that he saw the Games as restoring the battered image of the United States failed to move his audience.

It was also a crushing blow to Chicago’s longserving Mayor, Richard M Daley, who is unused to electoral defeats having first been elected in 1989 and his old friend and bid leader, 70-year-old Pat Ryan.

They had started out as frontrunners and ended at the back of the pack, despite being seen to have regained momentum in the past few weeks.

In truth the damage had been done earlier this year.

Much of it was not their fault but the attitude of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) was believed to be at fault.

First there was an unseemly argument over distribution of funds and then USOC President, Larry Probst, like Ryan, a highly successful businessman but not perfectly in tune with working with the IOC, announced the launch of an Olympic television channel.

This angered many members and stunned IOC President Jacques Rogge.

Probst, probably at the prompting of Ryan and his senior members of the team, went on bended knee to Rogge, first reaching an agreement over the funding issue in Denver earlier this year.

Then in August Probst went to Berlin ahead of the world athletics championships and after talks with the Belgian announced they were temporarily halting plans to launch the TV channel.

Chicago’s hopes rose and were boosted further when Daley persuaded all 49 city councillors to agree to underwrite any cost overruns on the Games – the first time an American candidate had agreed to such a measure.

Then the news that Obama would come earlier in the week seemed to suggest that he would not waste his time if the city weren’t odds on favourites.

However, the IOC are an eclectic and highly unpredictable electorate and answered the question posed by an IOC member earlier in the campaign of ‘how can you deny the most powerful man in the world?’

They did – and in stunning fashion.

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