The IOC’s highly anticipated 2016 Summer Olympics vote is tomorrow, and what initially appeared to be a slam dunk for the USA has turned into a legitimate two-horse race.
(Pele, representing his country by holding up a Brazilian flag. Please disregard the flag in his other hand.)
Try as President Obama might, Chicago is facing stiff competition from Rio de Janeiro for hosting rights, and it might have something to do with the fact that the Brazilian athletic community is pulling out all the stops. And by that, of course, we mean bringing Pele to Copenhagen on Friday to represent Brazil’s bid. When one thinks of Chicago’s most famous athletes, of course, the list starts and ends with
Brad Sellers Michael Jordan. He’s not going to Copenhagen, though, and that means it’s time for Pele to somehow overstate his importance. Mission accomplished.
The city of Chicago has spent the past year (at least) being repeatedly hit over the head with propaganda extolling the city’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Advertisements are everywhere - unless you’ve seen it yourself, you cannot possibly fathom how saturated the city is. There are recorded messages on the ‘L’, banners on seemingly every other building, and commercials looping on giant video boards around The Loop, just to nail a few. It’s all got a very Orwellian vibe to it and at this point, most people you talk to around town just want it to go away, Olympics or no Olympics.
Then again, most people you talk to around town aren’t the ones pushing for the Games. The rich and powerful have lined up to throw their formidable support behind Chicago’s bid - President Obama, Mayor Daley, Michael Jordan - basically every Chicago heavyweight you can name has done something to ensure that the overblown steroidfest comes to the Windy City in 7 years. And now, with the race for the Games coming to a close October 2 in Copenhagen, Chicago is pulling out the trump card to trump all trump cards.
When the first occurrence of the modern Summer Olympics was held in Athens in 1896, the Games’ organizers intended the Olympics to bring the people of the world together and promote ethics and goodwill amongst mankind. The Olympic Games wasn’t put together by a marketing firm or television network. It didn’t answer to shareholders. Throughout its history (perhaps most notably in 1936 and 1968), it has helped raise awareness of social issues not by premade PSA TV spots, but by athletes taking hard stands against oppression.
(Every 4 years, the world’s elite athletes converge…)
Those days are of course long gone, if they ever truly existed. Between political protest (1980 and 1984), commercialism (the Games have been a majorly profitable enterprise since 1984), and the everpresent steroids issue, the Olympics have become nothing more than an overproduced commercial product designed to maximize TV ratings and profits. How else could you explain the International Olympic Committee’s decision to consider adding golf to the 2016 (Chicago!) Summer Olympics?
Peter Ueberroth, the man that taught American sports leagues to lean on corporations for cash when he sold the 1984 Olympics up the river, has advised the media and the leaders of the Chicago bid for the 2016 Olympics that Chicago isn’t remotely in the lead for the honor of hosting the Games.
Of course, Uberroth didn’t list the reasons why he believes Chicago has lagged behind some of the other cities or where Chicago might truly rank. Why, you don’t think Peter’s looking for more money from the city and from private donors, do you? Naaaaah. Read more…