Rio to host 2016 Olympics

By Philip Hersh

October 3, 2009 | 9:48 a.m.

Reporting from Copenhagen - That Rio won the 2016 Summer Games is easily understandable.

The International Olympic Committee fancies itself a force in global affairs. As in the case of breaking Olympic ground by giving the 2008 Olympics to China, the world’s most populous country, Friday’s vote was a chance for the IOC to say that by giving the Olympics to South America for the first time it will have aided the development of Brazil, the most populous country on the continent.

That Chicago was eliminated in the first round, as shocking as it seemed, also was surprisingly understandable, given the IOC’s byzantine internal politics, its fractious relationship with the country whose companies have been its cash cow and the way the host-city election system is structured.

Since the IOC narrowed the 2016 field from seven to four finalists 16 months ago, it has been apparent that Chicago’s biggest challenge would be surviving the first round in what was expected to be a very close election.

Chicago was the only candidate without a significant regional constituency. And it was working to overcome years of IOC members’ ill feeling toward the U.S. Olympic Committee, which intensified in the last year.

NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, whose company paid $5.7 billion for Olympic TV rights from 2000 through 2012, placed the blame squarely on the USOC.

“This was the IOC membership saying to the USOC there will be no more domestic Olympics until you join the Olympic movement,” Ebersol told me early this morning, after he had talked with many leading members. “Chicago never had a chance, it turns out.”

Chicago failed – miserably, it would seem at a cursory glance – for some of the same reasons New York lost in the second of five rounds of voting for the 2012 Summer Games. It also failed out of a naivete that having what may have been the best bid was good enough.

“We [North Americans] 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,” said veteran IOC member Richard Pound of Canada.

The issue isn’t that Rio earned what Ebersol called a “spectacular and deserved victory.” It was Chicago’s early departure after long having been considered the favorite.

“Good for Rio, very disappointing for Chicago,” said IOC member Kevan Gosper of Australia. “They deserved much better.”

Conversations with IOC members and other Olympic officials Friday produced a number of reasons factoring into the second straight slap in the face at a U.S. bid city.

  • Even with an intense USOC international relations effort after New York’s expected defeat four years ago, the United States is not a player in international sports politics. President Obama’s impressive international relations effort as a speaker in Chicago’s final presentation could not make up for the nation’s lack of influence in the Olympic arena.

“The United States, within the Olympic movement, hasn’t engaged as well as we could have for a long time,” said Bob Ctvrtlik, who filled a newly created position, USOC vice president for international relations, a the New York defeat.

“This [defeat] isn’t just on the merits. I don’t think it’s anti-American. Maybe we still don’t have the horsepower to do some of the politicking within the movement.”

  • The USOC, in its habitual revolving-door leadership mode at the start of New York’s bid, went right back into that position in March, when its board unceremoniously dumped chief executive Jim Scherr in favor of Stephanie Streeter.

IOC member Denis Oswald of Switzerland cited the USOC instability as a problem and said it was his impression “this was a defeat for the USOC, not for Chicago.”

“It was clear that between the USOC and Chicago there were differences,” Oswald said. “Although everybody tried to look united, it was clear it was not.”

  • The apparent truce between the IOC and the USOC in the acrimonious negotiations over revenue-sharing didn’t hold. And the USOC’s decision to go forward with its own TV network despite IOC warnings to desist remained an irritant even when the USOC put its tail between its legs and backed off.

"The colleagues who asked me, I told, ‘I would like you to forget about this, [that] we will try to find a solution, and we should judge Chicago based on the quality of its bid,’ " Oswald said. “But everyone has a different approach, and I cannot say this has not played a role for a number of people.”

Those words may be self-serving. Oswald has been on the IOC committee trying to get the USOC to give up some of the revenue it gets from U.S. TV broadcast rights and global IOC sponsorships, and he described former USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth as arrogant for stonewalling the negotiations.

“The truce might have held if not for the network thing,” Ebersol said. “It made IOC members suspicious the USOC was just going to keep all the sponsorship money and use it for the network.”

  • Any North American city lacks a natural constituency in an IOC dominated by Europeans, especially in a race where there was a South American and European candidate.

Chicago got 18 votes in the first round, when there were only four North Americans voting – two from Canada and two from Mexico, the latter certainly more inclined to align with their Latin cousins.

Tokyo had 22 votes in the first round, Rio 26 and Madrid 28. In the next two rounds, nearly all the eliminated cities’ votes went to Rio, allowing it to rout Madrid, 66-32, in the decisive round.

Some members may have been so convinced Chicago would advance that they initially gave another city what Swiss IOC member Rene Fasel called “sympathy votes.”

Chicago “going out in first round, that was just an accident,” Fasel said. “I expected to have a different vote in the end. If Chicago is against Rio, it will be much closer.”

  • Rather than an accident, it was clever electioneering by Brazil that eliminated Chicago early.

“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,” Pound said. “I’ve got to say I was surprised nevertheless that it was a first-round loss.”

You can read all these explanations, shake your head and be forced to fall back on the reasoning of poet Emily Dickinson, who wrote that much madness makes divinest sense to a discerning eye.

Or rely on the impression of Norway’s Gerhard Heiberg, long a cool voice of reason within the IOC.

“I am very sad; I am very sorry,” Heiberg said of Chicago’s early exit. “This should not have happened. This was, I can’t say a wrong decision, but it was not a right decision.”

Yet not an unexpected one.

A very interesting report. The key to me is the USOC’s attempt to undermine the IOC.

Ok…fogelson, you’ve lived there correct?then you know all.You cannot move anywhere because of crime ond homicides.In fact, thousands of turists killed and wounded all year long in Rio…and no one goes there anymore…
Won’t talk anymore about that…but just happy they won’t be another commercial dominated olympics.

lol eroszag, continue to live in denial :). I’m sure the fact that the police can manage to protect the few beaches and night areas (barely) that tourists go to has relevance to the city as a whole. There are nice parts of Nigeria, Colombia, and plenty of other places, too.

I can’t say from personal experience as I’m not a Londoner, but it doesn’t seem to have changed anything… after all the teen murder epidemic came after the bid. And I’m skeptical it’ll change anything in the long run… an Olympic swimming pool will clean up the streets?! If anything it means less money going to where it matters. I hope I’m wrong.

There are essentially three basic places to place the blame, for those who want to.

Obama (he played a minor role, but he didn’t come out looking very powerful)

I don’t see any way in hell the first two are going to let it fall anywhere other than on the last one. Daley might not be able to affect the USOC directly, but I’m pretty sure Obama can find a way.

I live in Chicago, and I’ve seen how things work here.

Based on what you’ve seen, do you think Chicago would have been a good place for the games? Do you think the city would have been helped- or looted by the crowd running politics there?

Funnily enough I watched Chris Ryan (ex-SAS) with the Rio special forces last night… it’s even worse than I thought… an actual warzone. They have to close off some highways that run through rival favellas at night because they’re shooting across it, like no-mans land.

All things being equal, which they’re not, of course, I think Chicago would have probably been a great place for the games. The games would have been extremely compact. At a lot of Olympics, rowing/canoe/kayaking is over an hour away, and often has a separate village. Here they would have been on Lake Michigan, as a centerpiece of the games. They were going to build a jetty for $60 to $80 million to keep the course sheltered. Having it actually work (Lake Michigan gets pretty windy) would have been tough to pull off, but that was the plan. I’m sure having everything centrally located would have helped traffic issues tremendously, although Olympic traffic is never going to be close to good. The subway lines would probably have needed an upgrade (stations near the venues and that sort of thing).

A major advantage, as far as having a quality games, would have been that Daley runs everything. The city council has 48 Democrats and 1 Independent, I think, and every one of them depends on Daley for his seat (if they go against him, he runs someone in the primary against them). An awful lot of votes are unanimous. If he wants something, he gets it, with extremely few exceptions. So he doesn’t have to sell anything politically. So there wouldn’t have been a lot of internal politics.

On the other hand, a consequence of that is that Daley can pretty much set up whatever deals he wants for his friends. The feeling in the city, from pretty much everybody, was that the Olympics would have been a cash cow for Daley’s friends. Some people thought it was worth it, and some people didn’t, but not many people thought there wouldn’t be corruption.
This never felt like a Chicago bid, basically. It felt like a Daley bid. Support was always mixed (although whenever he needed corporate money he got it, because that’s how Chicago works). He was against it before 2005, and then suddenly all for it. I don’t know a lot about the Rio, Madrid, and Tokyo bids, but from here they felt like they had more local fever to them, especially Rio and Madrid. People in Chicago don’t really care how people in Europe and Canada and other places view them. Generally, if the Bears beat the Packers, they’re pretty much happy as far as their self-image goes.

One amusing thing is that Daley has made a career off of backroom deals and saying one thing in public while doing another behind the scenes. Then when he got to the world headquarters of such behavior, he was shocked, simply shocked I tell you, that the vote wasn’t “fair” and based on who had the “best bid,” not that there’s even a good way to objectively identify the best bid.

And the city continually balked at the financial guarantees the IOC wanted. They continually claimed the games would turn a profit, and guarantees were pretty much immaterial, but I am pretty sure that annoyed the IOC, even though they eventually came through with the guarantees, as I understand it.

By the way, permanent facilities are paid for by the LOC, and temporary facilities are paid for by the IOC (including games profits). So the swimming facility is paid for by the LOC, and the media center is paid for by the IOC, and so on, essentially. The stadium for opening and closing ceremonies was supposed to be built in Washington Park. It was going to consist of a field/track, and maybe 10,000 seats, below street level, and then another 70,000 or so seats above street level. After the games the above-street-level part would be removed, and the track/field and the lowest 10,000 seats would remain. That meant that the vast majority of the stadium was temporary, and the city figured the IOC would therefore have to cover it. That’s definitely a Daley-type move. “Hey, we’ll just make almost the whole stadium temporary” and the IOC will have to cover it. Stuff like that may have been minor, but it probably didn’t help. I think there was a lot of tension between “Hey, the IOC wants a legacy” and “No, we won’t have to spend a lot of money building permanent facilities.” It’s pretty much one or the other, and I am pretty sure they were playing it both ways, even on specific venues (I heard rowing was permanent and I heard it wasn’t).

I think inside Chicago it came down to: The Olympics would be neat, but we’re not living and dying over it; it’s definitely going to be corrupt and we’re going to get promised a lot of permanent stuff that’s not going to happen; we’re going to end up paying taxes to cover a lot of it.

For the IOC it possibly came down to: The Olympics in Rio would be awesome; Rio is dying to have it; the USOC is a pain in the ass; we know corruption when we see it, and if Utah had ethical problems (in the bidding process), Chicago is going to be off the charts (after the bid is awarded).

I live 2 blocks from where the main stadium (athletics stadium) would be built in Chicago. They would need to do a fair amount of work to get the area set-up, but I think the problems with the area are way overblown relative to other areas. Despite Charlie’s experiences, I have rarely had issues with traveling (during the Taste of Chicago, I went from where the stadium would be on the south side up north past Skokie and back in <90 minutes each way). Yes, it backs up bumper to bumper during rush hour head towards the city or going north or west from the city in the evening, but that happens in EVERY major city, period.

Crime would be a major concern pretty much everywhere except Tokyo (relatively). I am somewhat disappointed in the south side (of Chicago) not getting an influx of money because it is really economically downtrodden (relative to the rest of the city) and this might have helped it out. Of course, the city would have likely gone into debt as a whole, so who knows whether or not it would actually help in the long run.

Rio being a war zone is putting it lightly…

The organising committee for Rio’s winning bid to host the 2016 Olympics has hit out at remarks by Tokyo’s governor that there were “invisible dynamics” behind the Brazilian city’s win.

“Besides being regrettable, the statements made are in opposition to rules laid down by the IOC,” the committee said in a statement.

Tokyo’s governor Shintaro Ishihara said on Sunday that Japan must master the art of “invisible dynamics”, including nation-to-nation deals, if it wants to win the right to host the Olympics again.

He made the remark hours after returning home from Copenhagen, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday voted for Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 Summer Olympics host city over Tokyo, Chicago and Madrid.

“Our presentation was far better than those of other countries but it did not earn us points. I realised again that there was a sort of invisible dynamics at play,” the novelist-turned-politician told a news conference.

Ishihara, president of the Tokyo bid committee, cited as examples alleged deals involving Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the IOC vote.

“I have heard that the Brazilian president came and made quite daring promises to people from Africa,” Ishihara said, without elaborating.

The Rio 2016 Committee hit back saying it “repudiates the inappropriate statements made by the governor of Tokyo [Japan], Shintaro Ishihara, in the press regarding the International Olympic Committee (IOC) election process which gave victory to Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.”

“Surprised by the disappointing behavior of the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, the Rio 2016 Committee will send a formal notification to the IOC, on Tuesday, 6 October,” it added.

More corruption after more corruption. Perhaps time has come for USA to put an end to that cash cow. I don’t mean to not send a team like we and the Soviets already did. But given the situation, US companies bankrolling 60% of the IOC’s budget is something we should end.

Too bad Chicago wasn’t picked. They could have shown the rest of the world how to end corruption.

that’s funny as…:cool:

The U.S. companies aren’t donating it to charity.

They see it as an opportunity worth purchasing.

Good luck getting them to opt out.

When I buy a DVD on here, my goal is not to “bankroll” Charlie. It’s to buy something I want. What Charlie does with the money is immaterial to me. I’m pretty sure the same thing applies to companies that sponsor the Olympics.

I just had an interesting conversation with a client this AM about Rio. He was a Ipanema a while back and the faivala was close enough you could hear the crackel of gunfire around the clock as the police won’t set foot in there. Sounds like it will be very tough to isolate the gang-bangers from easy Olympic prey without a major army intervention.

It is just a matter of wanting it Charlie…last time I was there, Lula was visiting the city for some days…and in the preceding weeks the army “conquered” some problematic favelas…happy people, no drug, no gun fires there, new shops opening in a matter of days…but they left…If the money goes there, not having regular policemen earning 300$ a month and corrupetd rich people governing the city, the problem can be solved…until early 80s, all of this didn’t happen…then with democracy, government decided to not have interest in those areas, pratically letting them self governing…now they are trying to get them back…not easy…not hard, but there needs to be an aim…
Solution is easy with so much money available…needs to stop corruption, increase policeman salaries, having favela’s people build new houses out of the town, and owning them , paying with their work…then , military intervention to clear the areas. It has worked in some slumps in Sao Paolo and near Bahia…and will work in Rio.
From Ipanema or Copa you can hear some shootings occasionaly…but you’ll never have a problem down there. (and no Al Qaeda there too…)