Brazil lobbying for 2016 Games in Beijing

August 5, 2008 9:00:50 PM PDT
China has used the Olympic Games as the inspiration for a massive building boom - new stadiums and subway lines. In some aspects, Beijing is a whole new city. And now, one of Chicago's 2016 competitors has promised a similarly stunning transformation.

It was a slice of Rio in China.

Organizers of the Brazilian city's Olympic bid sambaed their way into Beijing promising to bring energy and beauty to the Games while, at the same time, using the power of the Olympics to improve impoverished parts of Rio de Janeiro.

Besides, they say, the Olympics have never before been played in South America.

"Our concept is broader, we believe, presenting a new country, a new continent and an opportunity for transformation much more powerful than our competitors," said Carlos Roberto Osorio, Rio 2016, secretary general.

"Most people believe it can be profitable. They can invest in Olympic Games and Olympics could bring more revenue, more tourism, a more positive view for the country," said Marcelo Torres, Brazilian journalist.

Chicago 2016 Chairman Pat Ryan says there won't be any dancing girls when he and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley present the bid to the international press - and that's OK.

"We're here to build bridges to IOC members. It's a low-key approach but not really laid back," Ryan said.

China has enlisted one million volunteers to spruce up the city, act as guides and keep an eye out for unrest. Wilmette native Jared Mondschein says the government has stepped up its monitoring of foreigners living in the city.

"In the name of security, in the name of harmonious society, they're really doing anything they can to keep people at a minimum and know exactly who's in the country and where," he said.

Mayor Daley is now in China learning about everything from security to pollution controls.

Before leaving Chicago, the mayor marveled at the Chinese government's ability to essentially order up a good Games.

"That's power!" Daley laughed Thursday. "No one else has that, you know. We have a completely different type of society, but they - just think - they shut every car off and closed every factory for miles around. It's that important to them."

President Bush arrives Thursday. It could have been devastating to Chicago's Olympic bid if the president had heeded the calls of human rights activists and boycotted the opening ceremonies.

But critics say Bush doesn't enjoy tremendous popularity abroad and it'll be interesting to see if he's asked to take a visible role promoting Chicago's Olympic plan while he's there.


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