MLK III relays lessons from '96 Games

August 27, 2009 8:46:02 PM PDT
Martin Luther King III brought his Olympic experience from Atlanta to Chicago on Thursday.He is backing the city's push to host the 2016 Games.

King is the son of the late civil rights leader and says Atlanta's Olympic legacy is diversity and equality.

During the bidding process he was a Fulton County commissioner who stressed the importance of inclusion and economic development in disadvantaged communities.

It is the celebration Chicago is hoping to have on October 2 when International Olympic Committee officials make the announcement of the host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Atlanta was awarded the 1996 games.

"The Olympics dramatically changed Atlanta and made it a global city," said King. Watch the entire King interview

Martin Luther King III played a vital role in the southern city securing the Olympics. He was so passionate about all communities benefiting from economic impact of the games, the stadium almost didn't get built.

"My objective was to represent the interest of the community and ensure the community issues were addressed. I'm sure there are individuals who will do that and I'm sure those issues will be worked through," said King.

King reiterated that message during a meeting with Mayor Daley at City Hall on Thursday afternoon and when he met with the 2016 team bid committee.

"It's been wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and learn a great deal," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

King used to live in Chicago in 1966 when his father came here to fight for better housing and equal rights for blacks.

Housing is also a major issue for residents who may be impacted by the 2016 Games. It was a concern regarding '96 Summer Games too.

"People certainly were displaced. But the neighborhoods were better neighborhoods. There was housing erected in various areas of the community so there were serious benefits. The benefits far outweighed the liabilities. You never want to displace but you have to find constructive middle ground," said King.

While King says the Olympics bring a lasting legacy to any host city, at least one expert who's been tracking the games for decades says the Olympics didn't make or break Atlanta as a global city.

"I think Atlanta would have progressed just as well without them," said Ed Hula, Around The Rings.

King says all the venues are being used from the '96 Olympics including the village for dorms and the stadium is where the Atlanta Braves play baseball.

King says from what he has seen Chicago has the strongest bid for the 2016 Games.


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