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Which Great O?


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Chicago Tribune Editorial

(and comments)

Obama and the Olympics

Multi-Sport Events September 15, 2009

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The Big O is still holding out, and we're not talking about Oprah.

Official word from the White House is that First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation to Copenhagen next month to support Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics. The president himself is busy with health-care reform and can't commit "at this time," according to his staff.

Busy with health-care reform? That's the excuse? Is he afraid that House Republicans would launch a surprise attack on Medicare on Oct. 2 while he's in Copenhagen?

That sounds pretty flimsy. We suspect that Obama is being cautious about putting his prestige on the line and coming home empty-handed. It would be tough to lose to a guy whose nickname is Lula (Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva will represent Rio.).

Still, Obama's response is being read as a big fat maybe by the folks who think a pitch from the president himself can make or break the deal. We're with them. As Mayor Richard Daley said last week after the City Council unanimously got out of the way of his Olympic steamroller, "We don't have this in the bag."

We continue to believe the games would be a great thing for Chicago -- even though public support has been shaken by questions about the financial guarantees to be provided by taxpayers.

A largely positive financial assessment by the Civic Federation provides more reassurance.

The structure of insurance to cover some losses also should provide more confidence. Unfortunately, the Olympic organizers were late to air those plans and lost some valuable time while public support ebbed.

Ald. Manny Flores (1st) wrangled some oversight provisions from the mayor and Chicago 2016. The Olympic organizers will provide a council committee with quarterly reports, and information on insurance coverage and contract bids will be made public. But those concessions were, on balance, disappointing. Flores' plan to empower the inspector general or an outside reviewer to evaluate the quarterly reports was watered down.

What's the downside of submitting to an independent review of how billions of dollars are spent? This is Chicago. Use your imagination. Go back and give the authority to the inspector general.

Still, on the whole, we're comfortable with the financial protections. The Olympics would be a big jobs generator in Chicago, a chance to bring business to the city, a chance to put it on the world stage.

It's a good idea, and no, the city doesn't have 2016 in the bag. All four Olympic finalists -- Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro -- have convinced the International Olympic Committee that their budget proposals are sound, that they could prepare for and run the games successfully and that security concerns could be addressed. If there's a front-runner in the pack, the IOC isn't saying.

That makes the final pitches at the Oct. 2 meeting in Copenhagen all the more important, which is why the other finalists are sending heads of state to make their appeals.

King Juan Carlos of Spain will ask for the sale on behalf of Madrid. Lula will be there for Rio. Japan's new prime minister and its royal family are expected to be on hand.

U.S. organizers have Michelle Obama and are working on Oprah Winfrey -- two of the most popular women on the planet. Still, it would escape no one's notice if Barack Obama took a pass on securing the Olympics for his hometown.

Mr. President, you need to be there.

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

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COMMENTS (39) | Add Comment

Comments:

Maybe Obama knows the $$$ really isn't there... Daley's already bankrupting the city with his TIFs. The Games committee is depending on federal funds for many things - most especially, mass transit improvements - that Obama knows may not be there in time for the Games. It's the economy, stupid!!!

jraddue (09/15/2009, 4:06 PM )

What a surprise...the Tribune plays cheerleader for the 2016 games...while forgoing REAL investigative reporting (see the Chicago Reader with regard to how investigative journalsim is done) regarding the bid and what it will REALLY cost taxpayers in Chicago...or how about the fact that the "common" Chicagoan will in no way shape or form be able to afford a ticket to any event?

I'd rather have Obama stay home and tackle REAL issues, rather then beg the extortionists of the IOC for the 2016 games.

Guy_Fawkes (09/15/2009, 3:12 PM )

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Where are those who complains about the same type of threads made by Rio supporters?

Danny, this is an appropriate thread discussing information relevant to Chicago's bid!

To compare it to the melodramatic rants that you and your countrymen practice is being slightly disingenuous.

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U.S. organizers have Michelle Obama and are working on Oprah Winfrey -- two of the most popular women on the planet. Still, it would escape no one's notice if Barack Obama took a pass on securing the Olympics for his hometown.

I also believe Barack Obama would make a better impact and his presence could be determinant. Michelle and, especially, Oprah have no big influence outside the USA.

(Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva will represent Rio.).

I know this is from the Chicago Tribune and it's not your foult, but the corret name of the Brazilian President is:

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva without the "g" between the "I" and the "n"...

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Danny, this is an appropriate thread discussing information relevant to Chicago's bid!

To compare it to the melodramatic rants that you and your countrymen practice is being slightly disingenuous.

Ok, if you say so...

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