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Emotion, interpersonal and geographic appeal led to Chicago losing 2016 Olympic bid

Source : ANI
Last Updated: Sat, Oct 03, 2009 07:30 hrs

Emotion, interpersonal appeal and geographic appeal led to Chicago losing 2016 Olympic bid to eventual winner Brazil, say most in America.

While there was no immediate explanation why the International Olympic Committee in its first round of voting eliminated Chicago from the 2016 Olympic bidding process, despite it being widely regarded as among the strongest of the four finalists, the announcement stunned and frustrated not only White House insiders but veteran Olympic watchers, reports Politico.

According to the web site, it reinforced the inscrutable reputation that the IOC's secret voting process has earned over the years.

However, in Chicago, it prompted a round of finger-pointing and sometimes novel explanations for the outcome: a sympathy vote gone awry; a purposeful attempt to spread the Olympic wealth around the globe; Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had out-performed Obama; Chicago's boosters had over-sold their bid to the White House; or just plain anti-Americanism.

"I'd be the last person to ask about the internal politics of the IOC," senior White House advisor David Axelrod was quoted as saying in an appearance on MSNBC soon after Chicago was eliminated.

"Listen, we got thick enough politics in this town, I haven't yet mastered that. I can't tell you what is going on inside that room in Copenhagen," he added.

Axelrod - whose former public relations firm has some Olympic experience, having worked on Chicago's bid and worked against a stadium central to New York City's failed bid for the 2012 Olympics - posited two theories of his own.

One was that Madrid, which was the last finalist eliminated, benefited from the lobbying of former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, 89, who reminded IOC members as he asked for their vote that he was "very near the end of my time."

It's "valuable when you have those kind of long-standing interpersonal relationships," Axelrod said of Samaranch, and he also singled out the "very aggressive" lobbying by Brazil, which repeatedly reminded IOC members that South America had never hosted an Olympic Games.

The geographic appeal was a strong argument that played to the Olympic ethos, according to Robert Livingstone, an expert in the closely watched but opaque Olympic bid business who reported from Copenhagen for his influential website GamesBids.com.

"Rio had the emotion," said Livingstone, who just before the voting began Friday, posted a story headlined "President Lula Stirs More Emotion Than President Obama in Final Presentation."

In it, he asserted "Chicago's overall presentation was not at the same level of Rio's - it lacked a clear central message and lacked excitement."

Though polls had shown public support in Chicago for the Olympics dropping off and a group of Chicagoans opposed to the Games had traveled to Copenhagen to air their grievances, Livingstone said such sentiments seldom impact the IOC's decisions.

Outside factors aside, Chicago had "by far the best bid," asserted Bill Mallon, who has consulted for the IOC and co-founded the International Society of Olympic Historians.

He said Chicago likely got eliminated in the first round because IOC members gave "sympathy" votes to the lesser bids in the first round, thinking those bids would get eliminated anyway, allowing them to shift support to a stronger bid in subsequent rounds.

In fact, Madrid came out ahead in the first ballot with 28 votes, two more than Rio, six more than Tokyo and 10 more than Chicago.

"There are so many parts of the world, that sometimes IOC members don't want to embarrass cities, and give a few votes to some of the lesser ones and then unfortunately the good bids drop away because of that," Mallon explained.

"Unfortunately, sometimes those token votes taken away from the good bids like Chicago's add up. And in this case, that's what happened."

Mallon, however, predicted it might have been hard for Chicago to beat Rio because he asserted the IOC has increasingly adopted an anti-American stance. (ANI)



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