POSTED: October 2nd 2009

IOC tells Obama: 'No, you can't!' as Chicago crashes in first round

President Barack Obama and the First Lady put their best foot forward / Image: IOC/R. Juilliart
President Barack Obama and the First Lady put their best foot forward / Image: IOC/R. Juilliart

KEIR RADNEDGE in COPENHAGEN / Sports Features Communications

OCT 02: Chicago, despite the best efforts of President Obama, crashed out sensationally in the first round of voting by the IOC for the 2016 Olympic Games host. Tokyo fell in the second round which left Rio de Janeiro to beat Madrid in the third round.

Chicago not only lost but lost badly. It polled only 18 of the 95 votes available and trailed in four votes behind third-placed Tokyo.

Defeat in such embarrassingly immediate fashion may delight Obama's critics back home but, when the dust settles, more attention may be focused on the role of the US Olympic Committee in its stubborn refusal to understand the increasing sense of anger generated abroad by the revenues imbalance.

The proposal to launch an Olympic TV channel exacerbated the ill feeling and pushed relations between the IOC and the USOC to what one insider considered as close to an all-time low. President Obama may also wonder at a lack of guidance from within the USOC which might have saved him wasting his time when other more urgent issues surely crowd his agenda.

Reaction in Copenhagen to the Obamas' intervention in the lobbying process was not universally favourable, either.

Hence the IOC itself may be tempted to think further about the 'beauty show' factor which has seen an increasing number of leading politicians and heads of state seeking to appropriate the immediate run-up to the vote.

Dangerous round

With crowds stunned into silence in downtown Chicago, Pat Ryan, Chicago's bid chairman and ceo, put a brave face on defeat.

He said: "It's their decision but bidding was worth it. We've introduced Chicago to the world. It's now better appreciated and understood. We can hold our heads high. The first round is always the most dangerous . . . and this just wasn't our day."

Larry Probst, president of the USOC, said that the decision would not affect the organisation's continuing loyalty to the Olympic movement.

Along with congratuling Rio and praising the other bids, Probst added: "We are tremendously proud of Chicago's bid and the positive legacy it leaves for the City of Chicago and the US Olympic family. Together we have raised awareness of the Olympic Movement in our country in ways we never have seen before.

"The USOC will continue to be active internationally and demonstrate that our efforts and support of the international Olympic Movement is a long-term commitment. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the IOC, other National Olympic Committees and International Federations."

It will be no consolation that Chicago's votes remained in the American continent, clearly going to Rio as follows - 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.

Keywords · Chicago 2016 · IOC · Barack Obama · Olympic bids · Rio de Janeiro · Madrid

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