What will be done with Olympic funds?

October 29, 2009 6:42:21 PM PDT
It's been almost a month since Chicago's Olympic dream was dashed. But Chicago's bid team hopes left over money will support a lasting Olympic legacy.Chicago's Olympic team has been all but dissolved.

As they close the books on the bid, we've learned there is roughly $4.8 million in unspent money.

The plan all along has been to use the cash to create a lasting legacy of world sport in this city.

Fencing is a sport that dates back to the 16th century. It's fitting, perhaps, then that it's being practiced today in a century-old park district field house.

"I've been doing it four weeks and all that time I've been enjoying it," said Keshawn Kumsa, 10 years old.

"I like hitting people with swords," said Devynn Vega, 10 years old.

The program is part of a multi-million dollar effort to introduce Olympic sports to inner-city kids.

Over the last three years, $12 million in privately raised money from Chicago's Olympic bid has funded everything from the successful World Boxing Championships in 2007 to sailing clinics for South Side students.

Roughly five million dollars that's left-over from the Olympic bid is now paying for programs like one at Otis Elementary which teaches visually impaired students the sport of judo.

"We're here to try to use sport to improve education, health of kids, safety of kids and that resonates whether or not you were for the Olympics or not for the Olympics," said Scott Myers, World Sport Chicago.

Others, though, question why the $5 million wouldn't be used for more traditional programs with proven track records.

"Forty thousand kids who we have projected to be tutored this coming school year are not going to be tutored because we don't have the money," said Phillip Jackson, Black Star Project.

"The responsibility kids learn and discipline they have to practice in this sport, it goes beyond the mat," said Douglas Tono, judo instructor.

Despite our city's Olympic loss, World Sport Chicago plans to continue to raise money, hoping to introduce $70,000 more kids to Olympic sports between now and 2016.


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