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Chicago Takes One Step Forward, One Step Back To Olympic Glory

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 4, 2008 4:36PM


It's been an up-and-down week for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid. First, the good news: Chicago came one step closer to hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics today when, as expected, it was announced as one of the four finalists to host the games, officially becoming a Candidate City and entering the international phase of the bidding process, along with Rio, Madrid, and Tokyo. [Ed note: I was pulling for you, Praha! Sadface.] Final, more detailed bids are due from the short-listed cities by February 12, 2009, with the final vote happening on October 2, 2009. In addition, Chicago can now add the Olympic rings to its logo, though we still prefer the original torch logo. A celebration is planned for Friday at 11:30 a.m. in Dayley Plaza.

Now, the bad news.

One issue that may be hurting Chicago's chances has nothing to do with the city itself, but rather the international view of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Dutch IOC member Hein Verbruggen, who also happens to be vice president of the association of summer Olympic sports federations, expressed lots of anger regarding the USOC's revenue share, calling it an "immoral amount of money compared to what other people get." Verbuggen went even further:

He said the committee was expected to receive about $300 million from the 2005-8 period, and $450 million for 2009-12.

"I simply do not understand how you can justify that the rest of the world has to pay for the training of American athletes," Verbruggen said. "Are we out of our minds?"

The revenue issue, which has been festering for years, has escalated into open conflict in the past few months and comes at a time when Chicago is bidding to take the Olympics back to the U.S. for the first time since Atlanta in 1996.

The money comes from a previous deal in which the USOC receives 13 percent of American television rights fees and 20 percent of global marketing revenue. It seems, though, that cooler heads will prevail: IOC President Jacques Rogge has stepped in and, in the wake of Verbruggen's outburst, promised to open negotiations with USOC to create a short-term resolution that would be implemented immediately before exploring a long-term resolution to take affect in 2020. But the USOC has entered into negotiations to resolve this matter before with no deal being reached and has been accused of intentionally dragging out proceedings. What effect this has on Chicago's bid remains to be seen, though a resolution from the USOC would be seen as "a sign of goodwill." May we also suggest free deep dish for the IOC?