Sorry, Chicago: It's Not Gonna Happen

ElectionsSportsPoliticsBarack ObamaRegional AuthorityRichard M. DaleyChicago Tribune

Chicago was eliminated in the first round of the voting and Tokyo went out in the second round. For Chicago, it wasn't that close: The first-round vote totals showed Madrid with 28, Rio 26, Tokyo 22, and Chicago 18. In the second round, it was Rio 46, Madrid 29, and Tokyo 20, and in the last round, it was Rio 66 and Madrid 32.

Chicago Bid Chairman Patrick Ryan said pursuing the Games was worth it even though Chicago lost in the first round.

"I don't want to call it trouble. We introduced Chicago to the world. Chicago is so much better known today and appreciated and respected -- all around the world," Ryan said. "Chicagoans can hold their heads high. We're sorry we didn't bring home a victory."

Ryan said he had not talked to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley because the mayor had left the hall and returned to the hotel where Chicago's delegation is encamped.

"He did what I should do, go over and talk to those Chicagoans," Ryan said.

Bid leaders had said all along that the big hurdle would be clearing the first round of voting. That turned out to be Chicago's undoing, Ryan said, acknowledging that there was a "wet eye or two" in the room when the crushing announcement came early.

"All we know is that the first round is always the most dangerous," Ryan said. "Obviously we didn't have a large region of support. We have two Canadians and two from Mexico ... and others have much larger regions. No idea how close it was."

"We are not going to put this on President Obama," Ryan said. "We just didn't win today."

U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst and chief executive Stephanie Streeter both declined comment when approached by reporters soon after Chicago was eliminated.

"No comment. We will talk later,'' Probst said.

Chicago 2016 sent out an e-mail thank-you note to supporters in Chicago and across the world. It included these words: "While we were not fortunate enough to be selected as Host City, Chicago has won in many other ways."

One Chicago consultant who traveled to Copenhagen with the bid team said the mood in the room ranges from "shock to devastation."

In Washington, the sense of rejection was palpable. "It's disappointing," said one Capitol Hill aide. "We're all watching the coverage. Sen. Durbin was fully behind the bid, and it's disappointing."

Durbin, the assistant Senate majority leader, was a late entry to the Illinois delegation to Copenhagen and was on board Air Force One with President Obama when the crushing news came.

House Democrat Mike Quigley of Chicago, who won Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's old seat, reacted to the loss by saying: "Chicago was a world-class city before today's decision, and Chicago will be a world-class city tomorrow. Although disappointment hangs in the air, this is not the time for regret, but rather to see opportunity in the incredible work that was done across Chicago over the past months.

"We now have the chance to move forward, free of the demands of the IOC, but equipped with plans that can address the real problems Chicagoans face on a daily basis. Chicago is now armed with an organizing capability never seen before, and an opportunity to continue the momentum and create better schools, more efficient transportation, and safer streets."

Chicago Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, whose ward would have included many Olympic facilities, said he was shocked by the decision. "It's geo-political forces that were beyond our control," he said, citing a perception that U.S. actions triggered the worldwide recession.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg released this statement about Chicago's failed bid: "I commend Mayor Daley and the City of Chicago for putting forth such a strong bid, and I applaud President Obama for going to Copenhagen to rally behind the U.S. bid personally. Hosting the 2016 Olympics would have been great for Chicago and the entire country, and the President was absolutely right to push for it. The Olympics should not be a partisan issue, and suggesting this is a loss for President Obama is nothing more than petty partisan politics. The whole country should applaud Chicago and the President for their efforts because the Games can be an incredible opportunity to build infrastructure, create jobs, and attract new visitors and business from around the world. That's why we attempted to bring the Olympics to New York City in 2012. We've moved forward on many of the plans for infrastructure and parks we laid out in our bid, and I expect the bid will ultimately produce many benefits for Chicago, too. Chicagoans should never feel regret for having made the attempt, and I hope we're able to bring the Games to the U.S. in 2020."

The defeat marked the first time since 1980 that the U.S. has failed in consecutive bid attempts. Los Angeles lost to Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980, but then was awarded the 1984 Games when it was the only viable candidate bidding.

There was a stunned reaction in Chicago to the decision. Here's some reaction from Rio de Janeiro; here's some from Madrid.

There were 95 votes in the first round because two members, NHL player Saku Koivu of Finland (currently in preseason training with his new team, the Anaheim Ducks) and Alpha Diallo of Guinea could not make it to Copenhagen. One of the 95 voters did not vote in the first round. No vote totals were available.

Others not voting in the first round included the seven members from the countries with candidates (two each from the U.S., Japan and Brazil; one from Spain); Kun Hee Lee of South Korea, who has been suspended pending judicial action involving him in South Korea; and IOC President Jacques Rogge, who does not vote.

As soon as a city is eliminated, members from that country can vote.

Under IOC rules, in case of a tie during a round when only two candidates remain, the IOC president can vote or ask the executive board to break it. There is a runoff in case of a tie between the two lowest vote-getters in an earlier round.

Officials pick out clear plastic balls from a bowl filled with such balls, each with a number, and assign a number to each city for voting purposes. Voting is electronic, a secret ballot. The numbers are No. 8 for Tokyo, No. 9 for Madrid, No. 4 for Chicago and No. 7 for Rio.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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ElectionsSportsPoliticsBarack ObamaRegional AuthorityRichard M. DaleyChicago Tribune