POSTED: October 2nd 2009

Rio de Janeiro triumphs in 2016 Olympic bid drama

Jacques Rogge: one winner, three losers  / Image: IOC - R Juilliart
Jacques Rogge: one winner, three losers / Image: IOC - R Juilliart

KEIR RADNEDGE in COPENHAGEN / Sports Features Communications

OCT 02: After the tightest Olympic Games bid race for years, Rio de Janeiro emerged as dramatic winner of a cliff-hanging vote for 2016 by the International Olympic Committee at its Congress in the holiday-making Danish capital.

Olympic president Jacques Rogge finally ripped open the sealed envelope and produced the sheet of card bearing the historic news for Brazilian sport at 6.46pm local time in the Danish capital. That meant third time for Rio which had bid in vain for 2004 and for 2012.

Rogge's revelation thus ended a 17-month bidding process and signalled Olympic history since the Games have never before been staged in South America. On that count, the International Olympic Committee may be seen as having struck for the developing world.

Rio will also become the first city to welcome the Olympic Games a mere two years after staging the World Cup Final since the Maracana stadium will be the focus for Brazil's hosting of football's premier event in 2014. Maracana is scheduled to be used for both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Games.

Madrid were well beaten in the showdown round, losing 66-32. The city thus suffered a second successive defeat after losing out in the Singapore vote for the 2012 Games won by London.

Almost as dramatic as the identity of the 2016 winner was the process of the voting which saw Chicago, despite the efforts of President and Mrs Obama, crash and burn in the first round; Tokyo fell in the second round.

First round: Madrid 28, Rio 26, Tokyo 22, Chicago 18

Second round: Rio 46, Madrid 29, Tokyo 20

Third (final) round: Rio 66, Madrid 32

The final duel between Rio and Madrid wasa also between the candidates' two sports politics veterans in Joao Havelange and Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Rio's long march had begun on May 16, 2007, when the IOC asked national Olympic committees to nominate 2016 host applicant. On September 13, the IOC announced seven applicant cities: Baku, Chicago, Doha, Madrid, Prague, Rio and Tokyo. On the basis of a working group report the executive board decided on June 4, 2008, that Chicago, Madrid, Rio and Tokyo should go forward.

By February 12, 2009, all four had submitted their formal candidature files and then came the evaluation commission inspections followed by presentations to the executive in Lausanne on last June 17-18.

Four candidate cities meant a potential maximum three rounds of voting with IOC members from a bid city/country excluded. That, with one suspension and two absentees, meant 95 votes available in the first round with a simple majority to be pursued.

Last-chance saloon

All four cities had one final opportunity to state their cases to the IOC before the vote. Chicago went first. United States President Barack Obama flew in hours before the opening of congress and flew back out immediately after wrapping up the presentation. First Lady Michelle had already been in town for two days meeting, greeting and hoping to influence IOC voters.

Both addressed the IOC movingly but clearly their words fell on stony ground. The Obamas were still in the air when Chicago's humiliation was announced by Rogge.

Tokyo laid heavy emphasis on an eco-friendly Games and solid financial guarantees while Rio – led by state President Lula who had also left before the victory announcement – stressed the historic potential of a vote for South America. Madrid wrapped up the presentations ahead of the voting process.

Vancouver hosts the 2010 Winter Games with London staging the next summer Games in 2012.

Keywords · 2016 Olympic Games · IOC · Copenhagen · Obama · Lula · Rio de Janeiro · Madrid

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