Chicago 2016 gets boost from IOC head

March 28, 2009 4:47:46 PM PDT
Chicago's Olympic bid has received a boost from none other than the head of the International Olympic Committee.He, essentially, endorsed Chicago's plan to financially guarantee the Games. That is good news for Mayor Daley, who has just returned to Chicago from an Olympic meeting in Denver, Colo. Daley is preparing to host the IOC in less than one week.

As ABC7 Chicago reported in recent days from Denver, the number one attack line from Chicago's 2016 competitors is that they will have government money to finance the Games. Chicago only has government guarantees as insurance against losses.

Now, one of the most influential people in the Olympic movement seems to be saying, 'That's okay.'

Emerging from two hours of back-to-back presentations from Rio, Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago Thursday night, ABC7 Chicago asked those who will eventually vote on a host city, whether they're worried about Chicago's ability to pay:

"I don't think there'd be any doubt Chicago wouldn't be able to write a check," said Phillip Coles, an IOC member from Australia.

In fact, IOC Pres. Jacques Rogge has insisted each candidate city provide what he calls a "strong guarantee."

Questions continued about whether Chicago's city and state insurance policies would be enough. Now, the man in charge of the IOC seems to be standing up for Chicago, telling reporters:

"What we definitely want is a guarantee, but the form of the guarantee is not an issue," Rogge said.

"Our guarantee is almost $1.5 billion between public and private. That's very substantial," Mayor Daley said.

Chicago 2016 took out full-page ads in the Sunday editions of several newspapers, asking people to post their Olympic pride in windows and other visible places.

The mayor continues to downplay the threat protestors could pose during the IOC evaluation commission visit scheduled to begin April 2.

"If they want to demonstrate, so be it. I don't have any problems with that," Daley said.

Among the planned picketers are Chicago police officers who are unhappy that, two years after their contract expired, the city yanked a proposed pay raise off the table.

"It's really unfair. The Olympics are bigger than Mayor Daley and bigger than the police and fire unions, all these unions. It's bigger than them. This is about a vision for this city, transforming a city," said the mayor.

So, what effect might protestors have?

One IOC member told ABC7, "It wouldn't be an evaluation commission visit, without a protest."


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