POSTED: March 18th 2009
Obama effect lost on Chicago 2016?
LAURA WALDEN & KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications
TAMPA/LONDON: The question which should be swirling around Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid is not the value of the Obama effect but whether the President will want to wield it in the city’s service at all?
When Obama was elected on November 4 the smile in the Chicago camp was so bright it cast long, gloomy shadows over the faces of bid rivals in Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.
Of course, since then the former Chicago senator has had far more complex and important paperwork on his desk in the Oval Office than the outcome of a sports venue vote being taken by the IOC in Copenhagen, Denmark, on far-distant October 2.
But before Obama speaks up for Chicago in the homeland of fairytale fantasist Hans Christian Andersen, his advisers may suggest the president stay well clear of what promises to be a not very happy ending.
First came the controversial lengths to which Governor Rob R Blagojevich went to find Obama’s senatorial replacement; then the city council stumbled over clearing the way for the Olympic Village site; now the bid is clouded by fall-out from the US Olympic Committee’s clumsy if not tragi-comic replacement of ceo Jim Scherr by board member Stephanie Streeter.
Hanging over the entire battle zone is the issue of the USOC’s extra-large share of Olympic revenues.
This had always threatened to turn voters from all the other less-fortunate nations against Chicago. That danger has been exacerbated by the bullish resistance to change of the USOC’s honorary president Peter Ueberroth.
Can the President really want to put his powers of persuasion on the line for a bid which appears bent on self-destruction? Or could he insist on heads being knocked together as a price for his support in the Danish capital?
If not then Obama may be tempted to ponder the words of Hamlet, Shakespearian prince of Denmark: “To be [in Copenhagen], or not to be?”
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