New Olympic rankings put Chicago on top

Bid expert says it's a close race
CHICAGO Less than a week before the International Olympic Committee makes its first cut in the race to host the 2016 Games, two new rankings say Chicago may be the city to beat. gives Chicago a slight advantage over Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. Those four cities have a sizable advantage over Baku, Doha and Prague, the website predicts. Madrid, Tokyo and Rio have bid for the Games before -- breeding familiarity with Olympic Committee members.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and bid chairman Patrick Ryan will travel to Greece next week where the IOC will shorten the list of possible 2016 host cities to between three and five. The announcement is scheduled to be made at the conclusion of the IOC's meeting in Athens on Wednesday. The IOC Board will rank the cities it selects based solely on technical merits. The analysis looks at a city's overall chances of winning the bid.

"Many have already crowned Chicago the leader in this race," reports. "It's a label that bid organizers are trying to lose since media favorites tend to fail their Olympic bids. But Chicago has come out strong with excellent plans, increasing public support, an impressive organization and an important window-of-opportunity for a North American bid."

The previous analysis done in February ranked Rio as the city to beat.

Here are's rankings and the associated numerical score:
Chicago - 60.73 (up .17) Tokyo - 60.66 (up .25) Madrid - 59.50 (up 1.25) Rio de Janeiro - 55.90 (down .92) Doha - 53.46 (up .63) Prague - 37.17 (down .42) Baku - 36.43 (down .42)

Another index, the Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index, also ranks Chicago at number 1, tied with Rio.

The mayor and his bid team have long said "experiencing" Chicago -- its skyline, its sports capacity and its people -- is the key to selling the city. Only a handful of IOC members have actually been here.

"We have to look at the competition. They (the other cities) have full government guarantees. Some of them have already passed visa facilitation programs. We have major obstacles to overcome as a country. So in a pure technical analysis we're not going to fair that well," said Bob Ctvrtlik, U.S. Olympic Committee VP.

"It by no means details all of our plans, it by no means tells the emotional story that we think is very much of the Chicago bid," said Doug Arnot, VP of operations, Chicago 2016.

"Their main disadvantage are the other cities. It's a competition. You could have a great bit. You could do the best you possibly can and another city might just have that extra edge," said Robert Livingstone,

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