Congratulations to Chicago
And I mean that seriously -- if I were to find out tomorrow that Houston had won the 2020 Olympic Games, I would start tomorrow laying plans to make sure I lived anywhere in the world rather than Houston, by 2018 at the latest. (Okay, fair enough, I already plan to live anywhere in the world rather than Houston by the end of 2018, but I'm trying to make a rhetorical point here.)
Here's an article that puts it well, and does so while staying admirably neutral on the question of whether Obama or Bush was more to blame for Chicago's "loss." (My personal opinion: Chicago was perfectly capable of losing on its own, for heaven's sake -- who in his right mind, when asked, "Let's see, I can spend three weeks in Rio, or in Chicago...hmmmm...." picks Chicago????? Chi-bleeping-cago? You kiddin' me? You gotta be kiddin' me, right? Now, if it was Chicago against Detroit, then, well, sure. But...Chicago over Rio? How the heck did Chicago even get 18 votes? I say it must have taken a lot of Chicago bribe money just to avoid getting outright skunked.)
Anyway, here's my favorite bit:
Getting the games means a city sacrifices considerable control over its financial future. If your vacation turns out to be more expensive than you planned, you can always cut it short and go home. But if the Olympics run over budget, you don't have the option of bailing out. You spend what you have to spend, whether you have the funds or not.Or, to cite that wisest of '80's movies -- I refer, of course, to War Games -- sometimes "the only way to win, is not to play."
Olympics do run over budget, as a rule. Montreal, which hosted the 1976 summer games, just paid off the last bills in 2006. Athens, the 2004 site, spent three times as much as it had planned.
The 2012 summer games are still three years away and yet London's obligation has already quadrupled, to $15 billion. The former head of the agency set up to handle construction for the London Olympics says that before they are done, the cost may reach $40 billion. That's as much as was spent in Beijing, whose Communist form of government allowed it to dispense with fiscal sanity.
It's no fun to get jilted in front of the world. But the only thing worse than losing an Olympics bid is winning one.
Especially if you're Chicago...
...going up against Rio, which has awesome scenery, whether you prefer this kind of scenery...
...or this kind (the shot is from the Hotel Fasano):
And since you're not exactly allowed to hang-glide off the Sears Tower, you're certainly not, in Chicago, going to be able to get this view:
Actually, I just put that last one in so that I could pass on the caption from the site where I found it (which I encourage you to visit since it's a professional photo that I've copied): "Advertising photo of naked couple on hang gliding, windglider, over São Conrrado Beach in Rio de Janeiro,Brazil. Bikini added in computer."
Hmm, you're a potically well-connected, well-bankrolled middle-aged guy on the IOC, and you're choosing between (a) Chicago and (b) a place that has naked-couple-hang-gliding...
...and Mayor Daley thought Chicago was going to win?????