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2016 Olympics: All Stars Seem Aligned to Bring Games to Rio, Brazil

September 24th, 2009

2016_olympics_rio_logoIt’s widely believed the 2016 Olympics will be awarded next October 2 to one of two cities, Rio de Janeiro or Chicago. Currently, Rio is considered a slight favorite to win the bid. The finalists in the competition are Rio de Janeiro, Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid.

Tokyo and Madrid are considered longshots at this point because the IOC likes to diversify geographically. London will host in 2012. Beijing recently hosted the 2008 Games.

If the proximity of those games are the deal-breakers they’re thought to be, then it’s between Rio and Chicago. Although, since Salt Lake City recently hosted the Winter Games and Vancouver will host the 2010 Winter Games, if it does come down to geography, this vote may not be as close as many believe.

Both Rio and Chicago have put together world-class bids. Both cities would utilize their waterfronts prominently in the games.

Although the U.S. Olympic Committee has a simmering feud ongoing with the IOC, that could be offset by the popularity of President Barack Obama. Obama is actively lobbying for the games and is widely-liked worldwide.

Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, also actively lobbying for the games, is traveling to Denmark to make a final push. Also in Copenhagen will be the leaders of Spain and Japan. At this point, US President Barack Obama has not committed to attending, sending first lady Michelle Obama and aide Valerie Jarrett in his stead.

The Chicago bid may rely on Obama’s showing up in Copenhagen to exert his considerable star power. Without Obama to derail the Rio bid, it may be somewhat inevitable.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, there is one major criteria which could be the tipping point: money. Even the best-intentioned and well-run Olympic Games are a financial roll of the dice.

Lula has guaranteed the Brazilian government will foot the bill for any cost overruns incurred by the Olympic organizing committee. Cost overruns in the Chicago games would not be guaranteed by the U.S. government.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Olympic games have never been held in South America. Many of the voting members of the IOC would like to rectify that inequity.

And they’re set to do just that on October 2nd in Copenhagen.

Written by John Gamble

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