Top Olympic Bid Story of 2008: U.S. President-Elect Obama Positioned To Intensify 2016 Olympic Bid Race

Finally to the top story of the year. has been counting down the year’s top Olympic bid stories in our first ever Top Ten Olympic bid Stories list. Clearly, the story that had the biggest immediate impact on the current Olympic bid and may help change the recently tattered relationship between the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee.

#10- Chicago fights for control of key domain name
#9 – Birmingham, Alabama bids for the Olympics – we think
#8 – Durban to bid for 2018 Olympics?
#7 – PyeongChang gets ready to bid for 2018 Olympic Games
#6 – Innsbruck, Austria Awarded First Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012
#5 – Singapore Awarded First Youth Olympic Games in 2010
#4 – Doha gets shut out of Olympic Bid
#3 – Beijing’s Mega-Games Leaves Olympic Bids at a Loss
#2 – Global economic crisis transforms Olympic bids

#1 – U.S. President-Elect Obama Positioned To Intensify 2016 Olympic Bid Race

November 4th, 2008 was significant milestone for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid – not to mention a turning point for the United States and the rest of the world.

Some of the votes that Chicago will receive during the host city election in Copenhagen on October 2 will be certainly be attributable to Barack Obama’s election victory over John McCain – and for several reasons.

The Chicago bid was quick to congratulate Obama for his victory – one that focused the world’s attention on the city of Chicago where Obama resides and where he held a huge televised victory rally.

Obama has been an Olympic bid supporter from the start and his ability to promote the bid to International Olympic Committee members will be a huge factor in the campaign. Making Obama’s election victory even more important was the possible flip-side – a John McCain victory. The same man who relentlessly attacked the credibility of IOC members when the Olympic vote-buying scandal made the news a decade ago could not have the same level of influence on bid voters as Obama, and would likely have caused a loss of support instead.

To add to the significance of Obama’s election to the bid – there is credible speculation that head’s of state will attend the bid election as they have in the recent past. The most recently elected host cities – Sochi, Russia and London – both can attribute narrow victories to the presence of their articulate national leaders who personally assured IOC members that they were the best picks to host the Games.

While there is no guarantee that Obama will be available to travel to the event, the mere possibility is enough to generate a buzz for Chicago.

After the election, competing bids were quick to recognize then dismiss the possible advantage that Chicago may have gained. A Madrid spokesperson claimed that no votes will be gained because a national leader lives in a bid city. Tokyo representatives first described Obama’s election as a setback for Japan’s bid but then quickly refuted that and told that there were no concerns about it.

Even the Chicago 2016 leadership downplayed any significance claiming they are not automatically a frontrunner in this race due to Obama’s victory. Of course, no Olympic bid city ever wants to claim frontrunner status; in the recent past media favourites rarely win.

Not to be left out, the International Softball Federation (ISF) was quick to jump on the Obama bandwagon. The ISF is campaigning to have their sport reinstated in the Olympics after being dropped off of the program after the 2008 Games – and experts agree that Obama will shed a new light on the United States and that will help improve the perception of American dominated softball.

BidIndex, the Olympic bid rating system from showed that Obama’s victory had little impact on the chances of the bid – at least in the short term. Obama’s mere availability will probably not be enough for the bid – his actual involvement in the bid between now and the final election will determine whether he will be a factor in its success just as Prime Minister Tony Blair was personally instrumental in London’s come-from-behind winning bid.

This completes this year’s top ten Olympic Bid news list. Happy New Year!

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.