Chicago Didn’t Show the Love


As you’re probably aware at this point, Chicago didn’t get the 2016 Olympics. The city was eliminated in the first vote, as if the IOC couldn’t wait to rid themselves of the city. Tokyo was shown the door a few minutes later.

Locally, people are stunned, as the photo from the Tribune photo by Brian Cassella indicates. We’d all heard it was down to Chicago or Rio. With Barack and Michelle Obama’s impassioned pitches, the bid seemed in the bag. Over the last 48 hours this blog has had thousands of hits on my entry on Chicago’s 2016 bid. As I write, hits are still coming in.

The whole scenario is depressingly familiar: You think you’re the perfect candidate, and all indications are that you’re the favorite, then people meet behind closed doors and eliminate you first.

And like any rejection, the next step is to disavow one’s desire: the Games probably would have cost too much and brought too little economic benefit to the city; the bid was merely a diversion for a bored mayor facing budget deficits and a terrible local economy; it didn’t seem that the city was going to get a Bird’s Nest, or any other particularly distinguished building out of the Games; polls showed only 47% of Chicagoans wanted the Olympics. Interestingly, Tokyo also had trouble generating popular support for its bid, and it was eliminated in the first round as well.

The IOC wants to be loved. London apparently won the 2012 Games by blasting “Whole Lotta Love” for the IOC. Chicago played the narcissistic “Sweet Home Chicago” in a video featuring a creaky El train wheezing into a station–a bad subject to bring up. Fifty million dollars spent on the city’s bid, and we for our troubles was a round of polite applause.

In the end, the choice came down to passion (Madrid) or guilt (Rio), and, as usually the case with the uptight, they chose guilt.

Blair Kamin has just come out with an optimistic spin on the failed Chicago bid.



  1. According to the reports I’ve read, Chicago came closer to winning than the voting would indicate, and Rio only emerged as a favorite within the last 6 weeks or so.
    An IOC faction wanted to put the games in South America, so they lobbied heavily against Chicago, which was regarded as Rio’s biggest threat. No one claimed Rio had the best presentation, while Chicago’s was called the best by a US city in decades. The IOC wanted South American Games, and that was that.


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