Obama to Plead Chicago’s Case

by Dave Schuler on September 28, 2009

The big news here in Chicago is that President Obama will, indeed, fly to Copenhagen to plead Chicago’s case for hosting the 2016 Olympics before the International Olympic Committee:

President Barack Obama, who initially planned to let First Lady Michelle Obama represent the United States in Copenhagen this week, when the International Olympic Committee chooses a site for the 2016 summer games, plans to travel there too.

The White House, which earlier had announced that an advance team was headed to Copenhagen to prepare for a possible presidential trip to Copenhagen, confirmed this morning that Obama will travel Thursday night. The IOC meets Friday.

A senior administration official told the Tribune Washington Bureau this morning that Obama will travel to Copenhagen Thursday night, and return following the Friday meeting. The first lady plans to travel Tuesday, and meet with individual memebers of the IOC on Wednesday and Thursday to make Chicago’s case for the games. The president will join her at the full committee meeting on Friday.

Chicago is competing with Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo for the games.

Getting the Olympics would be the crowning achievement of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s career as mayor and it has his full-throated support:

“President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city’s most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen,” said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. “Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady.”

From what I can tell most Chicagoans are more ambivalent about the Olympics. What the Olympics will actually achieve for Chicago rather than for Mayor Daley and his political cronies is ambiguous at best. The cost is definitely a consideration and nearly everyone (except the mayor) believes that the case for the Olympics in Chicago as an engine for economic development is being overstated. There’s a good summary of Chicago’s case at Wikipedia.

If the venues can be kept within the compact area of Chicago proper, well and good. However, if the need for specialized venues expands into the suburbs, particularly the western suburbs, the Olympics could become a nightmare, immobilizing the city.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dymphna September 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Unfortunately, Chicago as a venue for the Olympics is a potential disaster. I looked at the anonymous website that has been put up to make the case against this and they have a wealth of statistics, including how much land is wasted and how long it takes cities to pay off the debt they incur in these overblown extravaganzas.

Chicago has already cut pay, hours, and services for municipal employees. To add the chaos the Olympics would create to an already spiraling economy makes no sense.

It’s just more debt for things we “want” rather than addressing how to pay for the things we need. Isn’t that how we got in our current mess to begin with.

I concur with the Chicago man in the video who said “anywhere but here”.

PD Shaw September 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

FWIW, I answered a Zogby International poll on the Chicago bid a few nights ago. I gave somewhat tepid support in my answers, but said I would be much more supportive if told that the Olympics would be entirely supported by private donations and no taxpayer dollars. But as soon as I got off the phone, I thought “Wait a minute, the taxpayers have already been footing bills to attract the Olympics, so that can’t be true.”

nb September 30, 2009 at 3:26 am

But just imagine how much richer the president’s Chicago cronies are going to get! They put him in the Whitehouse. Now it’s payback time…and off he scurries!

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