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Ioc Moves To Fulfill Promise Of Bringing Olympics To All Five Continents


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Analysis: IOC moves to fulfill promise to bring Olympics to all five continents

By JEFF LEE, Vancouver Sun

October 2, 2009

COPENHAGEN - The International Olympic Committee's decision Friday to look towards Rio de Janeiro and finally South America in 2016 rather than Chicago, Tokyo or Madrid is one filled with subtext messages.

The stunning first-ballot rout of Chicago, which garnered a mere 18 votes despite the personal appearances of U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, stung the fractured and to some, arrogant U.S. Olympic Committee.

The last-ballot loss of Madrid to Rio despite a personal appeal from former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch to give him one last Spanish games, may well have loosened the aging honorary president's legendary grip on his colleagues.

And in doing so, may have truly started the kind of change to the Olympic movement that the current president, Jacques Rogge, wishes to emerge out of next week's ultra-rare Olympic Congress that looks at the future of the Olympic movement.

"I don't think you could have discovered more messages here," Chris Rudge, the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, reflected hours after Rio won a convincing endorsement for the 2016 Summer Games.

In awarding the Games to Rio 66-32 over Madrid, the IOC moved a long ways towards fulfilling a long-overdue promise to bring the Olympics to all five continents. It still hasn't sent the Games to Africa, but it recognized South America is finally ready.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sharply reminded the IOC in his presentation that Europe, North America and Asia have held all of the Olympics to date, and implored it to correct that imbalance. When IOC President Jacques Rogge announced Rio had won, Lula broke into tears.

So too did Carlos Osorio, the secretary general of the Rio bid committee. "We are mesmerized. We are very happy, and we haven't landed yet," he said.

On the other hand, USOC president Larry Probst, stunned by the result, walked stonefaced past reporters.

The USOC has been in a fractious argument with the IOC over money and its recently-abandoned plan to launch its own Olympic network. The USOC, which gets a disproportionately large share of broadcast revenues under an old revenue sharing deal, has been trying to stave off IOC attempts to rewrite the deal.

Now under new management after the board dumped its old president, Jim Scherr, the USOC also suffered from poor relations with some of its national sport bodies.

In a business that depends upon good relations, that's a trait IOC members wanted to stay away from, Rudge said.

"I would say incorporated into the decision, no doubt, was the fact that the USOC is perceived to have a fairly strong whip hand economically within the IOC world," Rudge said.

"The USOC is going through all kinds of changes at the top. This is a world of relationships. You have to spend a lot of time working those relationships and the changes I don't think helped them."

If that is the case, it is not one that IOC vice-president Thomas Bach wanted to talk about after the vote. "I think it is a step towards universality with regards to organizing the Games," he said. "So it is a good day for the Olympic Games. I don't know whether (Chicago) was a favourite. But I also was surprised that Chicago did not make it to the second round."

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley also ruled out a return bid next round. For him, his city had shot its last round and it is time for another to step up. But the effect of the loss for future U.S. bids was immediate; the USOC automatically ruled out the prospect of Denver bidding for the 2018 Winter Games, even though Denver officials were in Copenhagen assessing a potential bid.

Bach also said the vote reinforced the belief of IOC members that bidding cities don't need the star power of presidents and prime ministers but rather bids with sound technical aspects. The Obamas had personally lobbied the IOC for Chicago and had not swayed many despite their enormous personal appeal.

Anita DeFrantz, the U.S. IOC member who captained the Chicago presentation, admitted miscalculating the effect the President and First Lady had on the IOC.

"I think shocked would be a fair word, because we had a strong bid. Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with the President and the First Lady, so I thought Okay, we've got enough momentum." she said. "But the first round is always the scariest round. I've seen it over and over again that the first round will do something that nobody expects to have done. I can only explain it that people were doing their best to make sure that a city in another part of the world became successful."

Rudge saw it differently, noting that sport still trumps everything else at the Olympics, and pointed to Brazil drafting legendary soccer player Pele for its bid.

"Chicago had Oprah Winfrey there. That's nice, but Brazil had Pele. Within the world of sport, Pele is bigger than any athlete in America. People forget that."

There are differing Canadian views on what Madrid's loss means to the power of the presidency of the IOC.

David Cobb, the top Vancouver Organizing Committee official in Copenhagen, said he was surprised when Samaranch personally appealed to members to vote for Madrid because he was now getting old.

"The Samaranch impact is interesting, because I saw it as somewhat of an endorsement because of the fact they (Madrid) got to the final two. I thought there are alot people who really appreciate what he's done for the Olympic movement."

But Rudge took a different view.

"There is no doubt that Samaranch is still a tour de force to be reckoned with," he said. "I think he subliminally exercises a lot of influence. But then when he comes in with an appeal like that, that just shows that (voting) isn't necessarily always a rational decision. Maybe as he gets older he has less chips that he can cash in.

"I think to his credit, Jacques Rogge is creating a better IOC that is more concerned about its level of integrity," Rudge continued. "I think the IOC really wants this to be a serious discussion on how it can be a better organization."

jefflee@vancouversun.com

Follow Jeff Lee's Olympics blog at www.vancouversun.com/insidetheolympics

© Copyright © The Vancouver Sun

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We will see for the 2020's decade bid from Chileans and Argentines.... Wait and see... Chileans are moving for it too serious.

About, 2020 in Africa, Globoesporte.com made a similar analysis on send the games to Africa is the next step for IOC:

http://globoesporte.globo.com/Esportes/Not...S+JOGOS+DE.html

(in Portuguese, of course, a language that will be many times spoken in 2010's decade)

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