The International Olympic Committee (IOC) delivered a stunning blow to Chicago this afternoon in Copenhagen, Denmark, when, in voting to determine which of four world-class cities would get to host the 2016 Olympic Games, Chicago -- one of the inside favorites to win -- was knocked out in the first round.
Chicago had good momentum going into today's vote, not the least of which came from personal appearances by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Many reports noted how popular the Obamas are overseas, and how starstruck were members of the IOC. Not only was this early dismissal a shocker, it now seems to have been a wasted expenditure of political capital by our president, as well as, perhaps, a rude reality check of his actual popularity overseas.
The Phoenix, however, feels Chicago dodged a biathlon bullet (to mix sports metaphors a bit). This is a story the Phoenix has followed closely, being one of the only US publications to come out against a Chicago bid. Author Anne Elizabeth Moore noted that, despite the perception that hosting an Olympiad is a blockbuster economic engine for profit and growth, such an endeavor can actually have quite the opposite effect on local economies. The pomp and circumstance are memorable, but the host city is usually out $2 billion, lousy with expensive-to-maintain stadia it will never again use.
Of more local interest, as the Phoenix piece noted, now Boston may find itself on the IOC radar. It seems terribly unlikely that the IOC would reject an American candidate in three consecutive elections (New York was turned down for 2012, and now Chicago for 2016), given the enormous amount of revenue and TV-contract bucks that come with the package. The US has not hosted a Summer Olympics since 1996 (Atlanta), so whichever US city emerges with the best bid for 2020 would have to be considered a favorite. And Boston has already floated the idea of exploratory committees should Chicago fail.
Here's hoping that, 11 years hence, the Olympic torch is NOT being run along the Freedom Trail.