Top 9 Of '09 - No. 1: Chicago's 2016 Olympic FAIL
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 31, 2009 6:30PM
This week, we're counting down the top 9 stories of 2009 according to the Chicagoist staff.
As if there was a chance it was anything else? It seemed not a week went by between January 1 and October 2 when the city's 2016 Summer Olympic bid didn't manage to permeate the news. Everything for the city seemed to point to the announcement of the Olympic host and as the weeks melted to days and hours, apprehension and anticipation seized the city no matter if you supported or opposed the bid. There was so much surrounding the bid that it's impossible to sum it all up here. In the days leading up to the bid we broke down the bids for all four cities - Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio - talked to our pals at Londonist about their preparations for the 2012 Olympics, covered the anti-Olympics protests, and saw Benjy offer a spirited defense of Chicago having the Olympics even as - admittedly - several other writers opposed the games. We even followed the Chicago 2016 delegation in Copenhagen - including President Obama - as they made their last minute pitch. All signs pointed to a showdown between Chicago and Rio for the rights to host the games.
But then it all went wrong. The first signs of trouble arose during Chicago's final presentation to the IOC. There were few bright moments amongst a dull, stilted presentation. Even the Obamas - normally outstanding public speakers - didn't knock it out of the park. But supporters gathered at Daley Plaza the next morning still convinced that, at worst, Chicago would come in second and still had a great shot at getting the games. Only... it didn't happen. Supporters and opponents alike were shocked as Chicago was the first city voted out of contention and the games were - not surprisingly - awarded to Rio.
So what happened? Depending on who you talked to, it seemed Chicago never had a chance thanks to an anti-U.S. bias amongst IOC members and a lackluster bid didn't help. One alliance was allegedly in place to help Tokyo advance and the ongoing battle between the USOC and IOC over money was seen as a big detriment to Chicago's bid.
Closer to home, it kicked off speculation about the city's - and, more specifically, Mayor Daley's - future. Daley seemed upbeat at first, but it didn't take long for the gloves to come off and the finger-pointing to begin. Daley claimed the U.S. should give up on bidding on the Olympics and President Obama found himself having to defend his decision to go to Copenhagen and insulate himself from the bid's failure. Even as the 2016 bid group got set to close up shop, Mayor Daley let loose with one more rant on the bid's failure.
The city continues to nurse its bruised ego. While the bid's failure will, eventually, fade into memory, it's ever-present in our minds especially as we wait to see how it will affect not only the city's mayoral election in 2011 but if it will have a lasting impact on President Obama's re-election efforts in 2012, another chink in his dinged-up armor.
Previously: No. 9 - Abbate Case Resolved; No. 8 - Rick Bayless Goes Supernova; No. 7 - Oprah, Oprah, Oprah; No. 6: Should We Talk About The Media?; No. 5 - The Beating Death of Derrion Albert; No. 4 - The Blago Saga Continues; No. 3: The Year In Parking Meters; No. 2: The Obama Inauguration