2016 Olympics (a Political Blog Weekly special)

(In lieu of the regular Political Blog Weekly format, I have chosen to write a full-length article on a single topic.)

The showdown arrived on Friday.  Tokyo, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Chicago were in a four-way battle for the privilege to host the 2016 Olympics, with the world watching to see how the voting by the IOC would turn out.  However, in the US, the attention seemed to be more on President Obama’s decision to attend the event in person while pitching why his home town should be selected over the other three cities.  Well, things didn’t go as planned, as Chicago was cut from consideration during the first round of voting.

This lost stirred a lot of finger-pointing here in the US.  Some on the Right were pointing at the President saying that he has lost his Midas touch.  Some were criticizing him for his trip to Denmark, noting how no other President has attended the IOC vote in person before, and how this was repayment to his hometown buddies.  On the Left, some complained that the Presidents critics were cheering a made-up “failure” by the President, while others tossed the “racist” label again.  There were even others criticizing the US Olympic Committee for not properly advocating it on the international scene.

In my view, I think those examples above overlook the real problem.  Transforming a major city into an Olympic site is very expensive and very controversial.  While some of the proposed venues in the Chicago bid (such as the archery pavilion in Grant Park) would provide the viewers with some impressive scenery with the city skyline in the background, the imagery has some major drawbacks.  For two weeks, the heart of the city will be brought to a standstill.  Companies who operate in the city will face interruptions to their daily business due to the influx of visitors, roads that are closed, and employees who just don’t want to (or can’t) deal with the overcrowded public transportation systems.

This is why I think the next US city that is chosen should be not a major metropolis, but a slightly smaller city.  Atlanta was a successful location due to the smaller population size (1/5 of Chicago’s population) and sprawling open spaces that allowed for erecting the various venues.  In addition, the planning of the site needs to be done in conjunction with not only the city itself, but major sports teams, colleges, businesses, and other organizations that can benefit from the new infrastructure following the games.  The New York Jets, for example, played a role in the attempts to bring the Olympics to the city, and would have benefited from the Olympic stadium as their home stadium for decades to come.  In Atlanta, Georgia Tech has benefited from the dormitories built to house the Olympians during the games by using them for students today.

Chicago was just a poor choice, as was New York.  I hope, in the future, better long-term vision and near-term business impact studies are used in choosing the proper cities to consider for the 2020 Olympic games.  If a large city “has” to be chosen, then make sure there is enough open areas outside the city where the venues can be created without impacting the every-day commuters who need to get to work.  In the mean time, let’s stop blaming the President and one another for the IOC’s decision.  We can’t host the games all the time.

Sic Semper Tyrannis – “Not their kind of town, Chicago!”
Cicagoray’s Views and News – “Well, The 2016 Bid Is Officially In…And The Winner Is…RIO”
Chicago Argus – “Nerves can relax by High Noon”
QandO – “It Is Not Chicago!”
Political Castaway Blog – “Rio 2018″
Pambie – “Like a burr under my blanket”
Right Wing Nut House – “Why is the President Going to Copenhagen to Lobby for the Olympics?”

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4 Responses to 2016 Olympics (a Political Blog Weekly special)

  1. Harrison says:

    Montreal paid off their 1976 Olympic debt in 2006! Another good reason not to host the games.

  2. Very true. I should have mentioned that in my explanation for why better “post-Olympic” planning needs to be taken into consideration. With New Yorks plan, for example, the stadium was going to be the home of the NY Jets. With a billion dollars being sunk into the new Cowboys and Giants/Jets stadiums, the team owners know they will recoup their costs. Montreal's post-game plan didn't have that in mind.

  3. Harrison says:

    Yea and maybe they didn't get into the whole merchandise thing. That one was before my time though!

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