Obama's Hand in the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid

Greg RiotAnalyst ISeptember 28, 2009

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 12:  U.S. Senator for Illinois, Barack Obama, signs autographs prior to the start of Game Two of the American League Championship Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheimon October 12, 2005 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  The Angels lead the series 1-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)


(Amount budgeted for the bid in parentheses)

Odds To Host the Olympics in 2016

Chicago           -170  ($4.8 billion)

Rio de Janeiro   +300  ($14.4 billion)

Tokyo               +400  ($4.4 billion)

Madrid             +700  ($5.6 billion)

President Obama has launched another campaign, and in this one, he's looking for some change he thinks most people in America can agree on - that being the placement of an Olympiad right here in the U.S.

Obama is getting ready to travel to Copenhagen to make a pitch on behalf of his former constituents in Chicago (-170), which is engaged in a hot competition with three other cities (Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid) to host the 2016 Games. 

Obama is the first president ever to make an appeal to the International Olympic Committee. As such, maybe it's the kind of move that will get the IOC members a little starstruck. Dick Pound of the IOC has remarked that meeting the President of the United States would be a great thrill for many of the members.

Naturally, the Democratic political machine in Chicago loves it.

"Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady?", asks Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

So let's forget about the economic crisis, the bailouts, the Middle East, the turn toward socialism for now - there are going to be a lot of people getting their palms greased in the Windy City if this Olympic bid goes through (I mean a LOT of people).

Obama is going to be joined by two members of his cabinet - Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Plenty of former Olympic athletes will be traveling to Denmark as well, including Michael Johnson and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and what would a pitch for Chicago be without Oprah Winfrey, who helped put Obama where he is?

Former NFL kicker Morten Andersen, who is from Copenhagen, is also part of the delegation. No, that's not part of the satire. As far as I can tell, he never played for the Bears, but he's an ideal guide, if nothing else.

Chicago is not the only city vying for the 2016 Games that is "coming heavy." Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito and Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are going to be there, which means the closest peasants like you or I will be able to get to Copenhagen this week will be Stockholm.

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also will be on hand to augment Rio's presentation. That may have been the clincher to pull Obama out of the White House. Apparently it's personal now, as Brazil elected to buy 36 fighter jets from French-based Dassault Aviation instead of the U.S.'s Boeing, so Obama is going to stick that Olympic torch right up the Brazilian president's (bleep).

That Obama communicated such a message in so many words was confirmed by Lula, who added, "And I replied: that could be your second defeat."

I like it. Sounds like a prizefight.

Maybe it's appropriate in a sense. Tony Blair went and pitched London for the 2012 Games. Vladimir Putin (apparently with a friendlier press) went after the 2014 Winter Games in person on got them for Sochi, Russia.

Weren't we supposed to be the country that didn't nationalize the Olympic process? Or will Obama be looking to grab more money from taxpayers (i.e., people who actually work for a living) to subsidize athletes in what has become a more highly commercialized an environment with each passing Olympiad?

The voting among IOC members will work something like a political convention. They'll go through a first ballot, and if no one gets a majority they will eliminate the city with the lowest vote total and go to a second ballot. They'll continue it until a winner emerges.

It is imagined that the economic impact of having the Games in Chicago would not only benefit the city and surrounding area, but also states such as Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, which are nearby. Also, training centers within the region could be used. "I believe that you could see many of the foreign countries coming to our major facilities throughout our state to acclimate to the Midwest weather to train," says Bill Martin, athletic director at the University of Michigan.

That's just what the University of Michigan athletic department needs - more money.

Tokyo (+400) is thought by many to have too small a site, and they are pitching a "green" plan with environmentally-friendly venues, which may not mean much. Madrid (+700) is being pushed by former IOC prez Juan Antonio Samaranch, which might make it a darkhorse.

Obviously when you can have a large population center within hours, by air or car, of an Olympic site, that's a good thing, but what gives Chicago an edge, if it indeed has one, is that there can be a whole lot more coverage in the mass media if the event was held in the United States. In other words, there could be more money realized, and that's what it's all about. Plus, hey, who doesn’t speak English, right?

Still, there is a compelling case for Rio de Janeiro (+300) as well, since the Olympics have never been held in South America. That city has by far the largest amount of money budgeted - $14.4 billion, and has the best beaches.

Those aren't the only reasons I'm favoring Rio. How 'bout THESE fighting words:

"I wonder which city in the world has an open-sea hydro massage like Rio de Janeiro," said Lula.

Gee, I wonder how we could possibly compete with THAT.

*Odds provided by BetUS Sportsbook