IOC members arrive in Chicago

Inspection team expected to encounter protests
April 2, 2009 9:01:53 PM PDT
Members of the International Olympic Committee have arrived and are getting a look at Chicago - and protestors- as they tour the city.The mayor greeted members of a delegation arriving for a visit to help determine which city will win the competition.

Protestors hope to influence their decision. They rallied on Thursday night against a Chicago Olympics.

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  • On Thursday night, IOC members get over jet lag. On Friday, they meet amongst themselves to set the agenda. And Saturday, Mayor Daley and others officially begin to make their case.

    One by one, the Olympic judges arrived: the IOC member from Russia; an evaluator from Egypt; and the head of the Olympic Evaluation Commission from Morocco. Mayor Daley personally picked her up at the airport.

    But on Wednesday night, the IOC member who represents the United States says some staffers came a bit early to see the city before it's Olympic makeover.

    "We have had people either from transportation or the environment people just checking out some venues, seeing the layout, it's not uncommon," said Bob Ctvrtlik, USOC vice president.

    It is also not uncommon for protestors to greet Olympic committee members.

    One group was made up of affordable housing activists, Mayor Daley denouncers and a few anarchists marched on the Chicago 2016 offices in the Aon Building. They're demonstration was also in view of the IOC's headquarters hotel.

    Christopher Shaw joined the anti-Olympic movement just before Vancouver was selected to host the 2010 Winter Games.

    "We have 3,000 homeless in the city. That wasn't solved by the Olympics. We had massive environmental destruction causes by the games. They promised, like your mayor, everything would be transparent and clear. None of that's happened," said Christopher Shaw, Vancouver 2010 Olympic Organizer.

    "Yeah right! Who believes that. Does he think we're idiots? Come on," said Richard Rasmusses, Chicago Olympic protestor, referring to Mayor Daley's comment that no tax dollar will be used for the games.

    Chicago police put on a picket Thursday morning. Off-duty officers surrounded City Hall demanding a new contract and pay raise.

    "We have bills to pay. We have children to send to school," said Officer Bob Oldenburger, Chicago Police Dept.

    "We want to send a message because a lot of us are feeling abandoned by Daley," said Mark Donahue, Fraternal Order of Police president. "It is not our intent to embarrass the mayor over the I.O.C. We want Chicago to thrive. We have a vested interest in this. We all live in Chicago. So as far as the Olympics coming, we'd be very grateful if the Olympics came. It would be an absolute success."

    The group No Games Chicago also protested in the Loop. More than 100 people prepared to march from the Federal Plaza to the Chicago 2016 office, which is located next to the hotel where the IOC members are staying.

    "We think that the money, time and energy going to the Olympic bid should be spent on things that people actually need in Chicago. It's an economic train wreck. It's cost the taxpayers like $6 billion so far. Still a year to go. It's going to cost close to $1 billion," said Bob Quellos, No Games Chicago organizer.

    In an exclusive ABC7 interview last week, we asked one of the people who will judge Chicago in the coming week why residents should want the Games.

    "There is a huge feel good factor out of a running a good Olympic Games. And if you turn it properly, you might even turn a profit," said Sir Craig Reedie, IOC evaluation commission member.

    The group's sole mission is to perform a technical analysis of the city. They're not supposed to be influenced by freshly planted flowers or even an airport pickup by the mayor himself.

    Nonetheless, impressions count. And while they write a report, the group will also be among those voting on which city will get the games in October.

    On Friday, the IOC will be involved in private meetings. Saturday will be the first of three days of presentations. On Sunday, committee members will take what's expected to be a 10 hour tour of venues where the 2016 games would take place.


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