Chicago 2016 Learns From Rio’s Pan Am Games

The Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago 2016 organizers, in their first formal visit to a competitor city, said the ups and downs of the Rio de Janeiro Pan Am Games reinforced the “daunting” task Chicago confronts in preparing an Olympic bid.

Transportation appeared to be a problem. The games started nearly an hour late Friday night as buses packed with athletes from the Pan American Village struggled through the evening traffic while fans waiting in long lines through metal detectors.

The newspaper reports Chicago officials said Rio’s use of Copacabana Beach, including an open water swimming event, could offer organizers lessons for the use of Lake Michigan.

After seeing Rio stage the Pan Am Games Chicago officials say they have no doubt the city has a strong shot to be the first South American Olympic host and will be a formidable competitor along with Madrid, Tokyo and Doha.

Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 Chairman said Sunday, “it’s a big, big project and it’s important that every detail be right. Being here and seeing it live was very helpful. We have 27 months (until the host city is selected) and we’re going to need all of those”.

Chicago officials said they are watching Rio’s handling of the beachfront events, including transportation, crowd control and security.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said, “our lakefront, that’s one of our great assets. The same thing here, they make great uses of their beaches. You’re going to assess what they do as we come closer to making our plans”.

United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Vice President Robert Ctvrtlik said the delegation learned that Brazilians “sure have a passion for the Olympics down here”, as evidenced at the opening ceremonies. But he noted that Rio’s initial handling of the games has not been flawless and that enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily translate into a bid that meetings the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) exacting standards, reports the Tribune.

Daley said Rio faces “geographical limits” with its winding beachfront roads and protruding mountains, which have complicated efforts at moving athletes and fans.

Manuel Laborde, head of the U.S. athlete delegation in Rio, said Sunday that transportation was by far the largest complaint among athletes. He said athletes from smaller countries were finding it difficult getting to venues on time.

Chicago officials now say they are more determined to play up the compactness of their bid following their visit to Rio.

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