Some thoughts on the Olympics, Chicago and Obama

So the 2016 Olympics will be in Rio de Janeiro. Some people think this was a loss for Obama, but Obama was in a no-win situation. His ability to devote time to trying to influence the Olympics is strongly curtailed by other, more appropriate priorities. If he hadn’t gone to Copenhagen, he would have been blamed for not caring. If he went, he’s blamed anyway. In reality, he does have some control over what happened. He could have fixed the “harrowing experience” we show the world under the ironic words “Welcome to the United States:”

In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.” (New York Times, “Rio Wins“)

Ironically, the President has experienced harrowing nonsense at borders, see “US Senators Detained In Russia.” He should put someone on fixing the Customs and Immigration service before it costs us even more.

However, it’s really unclear if the “loss” is a loss. “No Games Chicago” was a citizens group advocating against destroying Chicago’s parks and budget for the Olympics, and according to CNN, 45% of the city’s residents didn’t want the games. And as the AP documents in “Olympics Aren’t Necessarily an Economic Bonanza,” the outlandish “economic benefit” numbers that Olympic advocates usually throw around are based on a “multiplier effect” of around 3. Me, I know what an Olympics event costs–Montreal taxpayers paid off the ’76 Olympics in 2006.

So congratulations, Rio. I hope you don’t bulldoze the less waelthy neighborhoods, and I hope you’re all paid off by 2030 or so.

9 thoughts on “Some thoughts on the Olympics, Chicago and Obama

  1. The idea that Obama would have received blame had he not gone is absurd on its face. No President has ever received blame for not winning an olympic game. Nor has a President ever put out the public effort to win the games as Obama had. It was reckless and irresponsible for him to have gone there without knowing what the outcome would have been beforehand. And it was a supreme waste of American Presidential prestige.

  2. Speaking as a Chicagoan of somewhat over 20 years standing, I think the Olympics would have been on-balance beneficial to the city, despite the obvious risks. What Daley has been able to accomplish downtown — Millenium Park, creating the museum campus, even his patronage-fueled street beautification stuff — has hugely helped boost the city’s image (and I say this as one with no illusions concerning the degree of corruption around). That said, this isn’t the biggest deal in the world. A truly great city can shrug its broad shoulders and move on.

  3. As a resident of downtown Chicago, I can say that I did not know a single person who supported bringing the games to Chicago. I don’t know where the 55% who did not oppose it (the survey data was spun so that “undecided’s” and “didn’t care’s” were reported as pro-games) lived.
    I’m absolutely not saying those people didn’t exist, but they didn’t seem to exist among those of us who were actually going to have our day-to-day lives significantly impacted by it.

  4. Aww c’mon Chandler. Sacrifices have to be made. And think of how much you could have rented a parking space out for :^)

  5. Actually, I was planning on renting my entire house out and then either taking a month’s vacation to do sailing charters at suitably extortionistic rates or just leaving the country until things calmed down again.
    Maybe now, Da Mayor will be able to return to the usual level of graft and corruption as well as possibly even finding time and money to run the city.

  6. Not wanting to deal with the US customs was probably one of the big reasons why we were out in the first round, but it wasn’t the only one. Let’s be honest… Chicago has nothing going for it. It’s cold. It’s windy… etc. Rio is the complete opposite… (in a good way :-)). It was a no brainer 🙂

  7. Not wanting to deal with the US customs was probably one of the big reasons why we were out in the first round, but it wasn’t the only one. Let’s be honest… Chicago has nothing going for it. It’s cold. It’s windy… etc. Rio is the complete opposite… (in a good way :-)). It was a no brainer 🙂

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