POSTED: April 9th 2009

Chicago takes 2016 positives

Oprah Winfrey greets Nawal El Moutawkel / Image: Chicago 2016
Oprah Winfrey greets Nawal El Moutawkel / Image: Chicago 2016

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

CHICAGO: It was smiles (almost) all round after the IOC's evaluation commission completed its whirlwind assessment of Chicago's 2016 Olympic project and headed off towards the remaining three stops along the way towards Copenhagen in October 2.

Nawal el Moutawakel, president of the commission, made polite praiseworthy comments about the potential host city and local bid leaders enthused about how well they perceived the event to have been carried through. Of course, neither side had any other option for reasons covering all the various diplomatic complexities.

El Moutawakel described Chicago as a "vibrant" city and acknowledged the presentation of financial guarantees which critics had felt had been mising from the city's presentation recently at Sportaccord in Denver. She said: "We have been given a lot of guarantees for the past days and all the guarantees have been thoroughly studied."

El Moutawakel added: "When you see the heavyweight business community that tried to convince us that they're, all of them, backing the Chicago bid, I think the [financial] crisis will not last forever."

Chicago organizers sought to impress the commission with their plan for a compact games with most of the events being staged along the lakefront.

Compact concept

The commission clearly took the message on board. El Moutawakel (right with Mayor Richard Daley) said: "We felt that the concept of the whole Olympic Games within the city of Chicago is very compact and the distance between the village is reasonable, and I don't think there will be any problems."

Federal support for the bid was evidenced by the contributions of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Jarrett told the commission that the White House would set up an office to provide support for the games and oversee a host of federal agencies while Clinton said the State Department would work to "ensure that if the city is selected, all the members of the Olympic family can gain entry into the country in a streamlined and expedited process."

On the negative side, members of the commission also spent half an hour listening to the views of protest group No Games Chicago which raised concerns about the city budget, various corruption issues as well as cost overruns related to previous high-cost projects.

The assessment visit was rounded off with a gala dinner at which Patrick Ryan, chairman and chief executive of the bid, declared that Chicago's people were "passionate" about the Games and "want to host the world here in 2016."

He told the commission members: "You've asked very good questions. You've challenged us but it has been a great exchange of ideas and we have had a wonderful opportunity to represent our great city and our plan. I'm very proud of the team."

The International Olympic Committee decides in Copenhagen on October 2 between 2016 bids from Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Keywords · Chicago 2016 · IOC · evaluation commission · Ryan · Clinton · El Moutawakel

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.