Chicago 2016 prepares for IOC visit

March 24, 2009 2:58:59 PM PDT
"Nine days to go." That's what's printed on a large sign overlooking a rehearsal area in the headquarters of Chicago's Olympic bid. Members of the International Olympic Committee's Evaluation Commission arrive in town April 2nd for the first of a four-city inspection tour that will result in an in-depth, technical analysis of each city's ability to host the Games.

Chicago's bid team is busy rehearsing part of a 17-segment presentation on everything from mass transit to sponsorship opportunities.

"I think it's critical to us to tell the World's Fair story and the Millennium Park," said one member.

One part of the pitch- Chicago can deliver despite rough economic times. Organizers will use the World's Fair that followed the Great Depression as an example.

"Government funding for the Fair dried up but Chicago's business and philanthropic leaders stepped forward and contributed 27 million to the Fair," said Valerie Barker Waller, Chicago 2016 marketing director.

The IOC delegation will spend as many as 20 hours over three days hearing presentations, which will take place at the Fairmont Hotel.

"This is a technical judgment but we want to make sure while they're here to see technical aspects of the city, they also see the spiritual, emotional and friendly parts of the city," said Patrick Sandusky, Chicago 2016 spokesman.

That's why Olympians like Bob Berland, who competed in the '84 Games in Los Angeles, are being tasked with acting as tour guides. Also, at Soldier Field the IOC will see kids playing soccer on the field that is slated to host the sport if Chicago gets the Games.

"Spectators on Olympic Island will be able to see beach volleyball and a whitewater slalom course while watching sailors prep their boats for competition," said Sandusky.

A week from Sunday, the IOC team will tour the sites of proposed venues. All the while, Chicago tries to impress.

"In many cases Chicago may not be recognized as an international destination but when you come here the prevailing feeling is this is an International City that's just under recognized," said Bob Berland, Olympian, Chicago 2016.

Chicago 2016 also updated a video animation that shows how some sections of the city will be transformed if Chicago is home to the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The delegation consists of nine IOC members and seven Olympic staffers. The same delegation will also visit Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro in April as well as Madrid in early May.

The IOC Evaluation Commission Schedule is as follows:

  • April 2 - IOC arrives
  • April 3 - Evaluation Commission members hold private meeting. Evening reception for local, international media
  • April 4 - Presentations
  • April 5 - Venue Tour
  • April 6- Presentations
  • April 7 - Presentations, IOC press conference
  • April 8 - IOC departs