Chicago 2016 empties offices

October 6, 2009 3:15:24 PM PDT
"No U.S. city, no other city in the world, could have beaten Rio," said Chicago 2016 chairman Patrick Ryan on Tuesday. Ryan spoke about the city's failed bid to win the 2016 Summer Olympics as many of the Chicago 2016 staffers emptied officers and started hunting for new jobs.

The Windy City got only 18 of 96 votes in the first round of the IOC bidding in Denmark on Friday. Could the bid team not have know such a dramatic defeat was possible? The first rule in a Chicago election is to make sure your precinct captains can deliver the number of votes pledged. The city's Olympic precinct captains were promised a dozen more votes in the first round than they received.

On Friday, when the International Olympic Committee president said, "Having the least votes, Chicago will be eliminated," there was an audible gasp in the room. Chicago's first round defeat even stunned some of the IOC members who caused it.

"We told people: Please don't waste your vote on a loyalty basis because it's dangerous," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

Bid chairman Pat Ryan and his team say nearly 30 IOC members pledged their support in the first round, a dozen more than ended up voting for Chicago.

"I talked to many IOC members and they told me unequivocally 'You've got my vote.' And I believed them," said Bob Berland, Chicago 2016, former Olympian.

"So it was really all about do they believe Rio was ready-- and they made that judgment," said Ryan.

Ryan says once IOC leadership deemed Rio capable of hosting the Games, Chicago's shot became a long one. However, Chicago's partner in the process, the U.S. Olympic Committee, did more to hurt the bid than help it. Ongoing disputes over revenue sharing with the IOC, leadership turmoil and perceived arrogance all contributed to Chicago's anemic vote count.

Still, Ryan says Rio made a compelling case on its own.

"Once they made that decision, it wouldn't have mattered if they loved the USOC, they were going to go to be inclusive to a continent they had never been, that had never hosted the Games," said Ryan.

The word "legacy" is still scrawled on a dry-erase board in Doug Arnot's office. As he and his co-workers pack boxes, they concede the deck may have been stacked against Chicago even if few people realized it.

"I think for a lot of reasons, in some senses, Rio was pushed into the IOC's arms," said Doug Arnot, Chicago 2016 senior vice president.

On Tuesday afternoon Mayor Daley said Chicago's Olympic loss should not be a reflection on him.

"My obituary is already set. You have been writing that for years," said Mayor Daley.

Professional obituaries are being written in Colorado Springs, Colorado, home of the U.S. Olympic committee with calls for senior leaders at the USOC to resign. And, there are some signs that they actually may.


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