Some transplants have divided Olympic loyalties

3 Chicagoans from those other 2016 candidate cities
September 28, 2009 3:20:18 PM PDT
Chicagoans from Rio, Madrid and Tokyo may be a bit divided about who should win the 2016 Games. Do they root for the place they now call home or pull for their home country?There is no doubt loyalties are divided. But, when it comes right down to it, transplants from Rio, Madrid and Toyko would like their hometowns to win. All say their home cities could really use the economic boost the Games promise to bring. However, if one of those cities is not chosen, foreign-born Chicagoans are rooting for the Windy City.

Marisa Santos hails from Madrid. Mitsukuni Baba is from Tokyo. And Mariana Sgarbi was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, but for now, Chicago is home for all three, which is why the fierce competition for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games leaves these international residents torn and confused. They are rooting for their hometowns but not exactly rooting against their adopted town.

"I love this city. I wouldn't mind if Chicago won too. I win both ways," said Sgarbi.

Sgarbi has followed the competition between the four cities closely. She and dozens of Brazilians living in Chicago plan to watch Friday's announcement, and while experts say Rio and Chicago are the two top contenders, Sgarbi says, when it comes to passion for the Olympics , Rio has Chicago beat.

"Growing up in Rio as a child, every time the Olympics came on TV, we lined the streets. Everybody was cheering for every single sport," said Sgarbi.

Marisa Santos refuses to believe Chicago and Rio are on top. Santos works at Instituto Cervantes, a Spanish cultural center. Santos says don't count Madrid out yet.

"There has been a great change in Spain and it needs a place where it can be made more evident," said Santos.

And what about Tokyo? Mitsukuni Baba is the executive director of the Japan-America Society of Chicago.

"If Tokyo wins, I feel 50 percent happy and 50 percent sad for Chicago. And if Chicago wins, I'm happy or 50 percent sad for Tokyo" said Baba.

The three transplants ABC7 talked with all believed their cities had a good chance of winning until they learned of President Obama's plan to go to Denmark. Because of that, they now think Chicago has the edge, because of the president's popularity abroad.


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