Chicago among finalists for 2016 Olympics

June 4, 2008 3:49:35 PM PDT
Chicago is one of the final five in the competition to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The list of finalists includes Madrid, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. The celebration may be short-lived. This International Olympic Committee evaluation finds flaws in Chicago's Olympic plans. None are fatal, but they could be construed as potential red flags for the mayor, his Olympic team and Chicago taxpayers.

Making the short list was practically a sure thing for Chicago. And so are the challenging months ahead.

"It was an impressive list to choose from," said Giselle Davies, International Olympic Committee.

When Chicago's name was called, Mayor Daley stayed in his chair, unlike the emotion he showed when Chicago became the U.S. candidate city.

"He had a big smile on," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

"I had a smile on. It was a completely different approach," said Mayor Daley.

The IOC's technical rankings of the cities may soften their smiles. Right now Tokyo is in the top spot, followed by Madrid. Chicago and the Middle Eastern city of Doha were tied for third place. Rio de Janeiro was ranked fourth.

"Everyone is a threat. There's no one city above the other, I think. They're global, major international cities, they're very competitive," said Mayor Daley.

"It's a new city to the Olympic movement. So, even though it's a great international city and is very well known in the United States, it's a challenge to get it to be well known among the IOC membership,," said Bob Ctvrtlik, U.S. Olympic Committee.

IOC evaluators take issue with Chicago's mass transit system and suggest current rail lines and stations may not be close enough to key venues like the Olympic stadium in Washington Park.

"The role of public transport in a Chicago Games is unclear," the IOC team reported. Overall, they also say, "the construction budgets appear low and may warrant review" And Chicago's revenue projects appear "optimistic."

"We are all major international global cities. We are a great international city and very well known in the United States. It is a challenge to get it well known by the IOC," said Mayor Daley.

In Chicago, former Olympians are thrilled their sports may one day be played in their hometown.

"I hoped and dreamed, but you worry. Do we have enough? Do we have the right things in place? I wanted to believe t hat we did and today we showed that we did," said Lynda Mastandrea, Paralympian.

Madrid and Tokyo ranked ahead of Chicago in the majority of categories including infrastructure, venues, Olympic stadium and public transportation.

There is a long list of items for Chicago's team to work on, but it is worth mentioning Madrid was also in first at this stage in the bidding for 2012. London won that competition.

What's Next:

  • August, 2008: Daley and Ryan go Beijing Olympics
  • April-May, 2009: IOC Site Evaluation Committee Visits each city
  • Summer, 2009: Leaders of each bid city travel to IOC Headquarters in Switzerland to make presentations
  • October, 2009: IOC meets in Copenhagen to announce 2016 Olympic Host City.

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