IOC Report: Chicago's Olympic bid 'risky'

soldier field.jpg

Tribune photo by José M. Osorio / April 5, 2009

Workers walk near the Chicago 2016 logo at Soldier Field, which is one of the venues that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is visiting for the 2016 Olympics & Paralympic Games in Chicago Sunday.

Like any good public relations operation, when you expect bad news to try to diminish it by putting it out yourself first and say that in the broader scheme of things that it's not important. It's standard, by-the-book PR tactics.

And so it was with the International Olympic Committee's "technical critique" of Chicago's 2016 Olympics bid. In preparation for its release today, we heard newsreaders say yesterday that the critique is a mere technicality, that it won't be the big factor in which of the four finalist cities gets selected. (And so it might be, because the IOC's operations have become so politicized that rational discussion may no longer determine who gets selected.)

But check out the report and you'll find that its evaluators highlighted the same exact things that local critics of the Chicago Olympics have been saying. The problems are, according to a Chicago Tribune story:

 • Increased risk in Chicago due to an ``emphasis on  major temporary or scaled-down venues;''


 • The transport plan includes factors that could be a ``major challenge;''

A lack of a full guarantee against shortfall, an issue that remains
problematic even after Mayor Richard Daley said he would sign the
contract that makes the city the financial backstop;

 • The Chicago budget was ``ambitious but achievable'' but the city needs an ``extensive sponsorship program'' to make it work.

The Olympic Village plan a potentially ``special experience for the
athletes'' but noted no full financing guarantee for its construction
was provided when the commission visited in early April.

Read the IOC panel's report here.

The financing, the city's transportation shortcomings (which we all
know first hand), the temporary and speculative nature of some of the
facilities. The report could have added the local committee's longtime reluctance
to be completely forthcoming with what they're getting us into. Most
important is that pesky financial guarantee letter that Mayor Richard
M. Daley has not signed because of the negative local political
reactions that he'll receive. (Never mind, the Olympic sponsors tell
us: we're buying enough insurance to cover any financial losses;
taxpayers don't have to worry about a thing.) Of course, we all know
that Daley will sign that letter as soon as Chicago is awarded the

Considering how politicized and commercialized and "monetized" the
Games have become, Chicago, indeed, is the perfect place for Them.


Leave a comment
  • As you mentioned, we all know that the CTA is a third-world system. What happened to all the Carole Brown lovers who said that if we get the Olympics, the transit grants will start gushing? From where?

    However, I am sure that the sticking point will be the guaranty. First, it was reported that all applicants must sign the unlimited guaranty BEFORE the games are awarded, not after. You know that the IOC wants its money. Furthermore, the insurance seems to be for catastrophic things, not the foreseeable risk that it will go over budget. That is what they (Daley and the IOC) want to hook the taxpayers for.

  • Slight modification to my prior post.

    In that the Sun Times reports that the problem is Metra capacity, isn't it ironic if it would force Daley to support expanding a suburban agency he doesn't control? And what would Metra do with the extra capacity after the games?

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