Chicago 2016 Presents Case To IOC

Chicago 2016 bid leaders detailed the city’s plans for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games Wednesday to members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at IOC headquarters in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 CEO, called it a major milestone “in our three-year quest – an opportunity to share our vision for the Games and make personal contact with IOC members who will vote in a few short months to select the 2016 Host City”.

The IOC members heard that Chicago is a city whose very layout seems to have been designed for an Olympic Games, and that many of the sport venues would be in parklands along the shore of Lake Michigan in the heart of the city, minutes away from world-class museums, fine restaurants, hotels, shopping and entertainment.

The Chicago metropolitan area has 115,000 hotel rooms and Chicago 2016 already has secured 78,000 for use during the Games – nearly twice the amount required by the IOC. Existing public transit lines would bring spectators to competition venues.

Chicago’s presentation at 45 minutes reportedly ran 15 minutes long and featured several videos, including one that starred several Olympians and Paralympians.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley noted “the power of sport to change peoples’ lives” and outlined Chicago’s growing effort to involve young people in training and competition and to teach them the values that sport can offer – excellence, friendship and respect.

Bob Ctvrtlik, United States Olympic Committee First Vice President of International Relations said in the presentation “the United States has never offered the Olympic Movement a bid that could match the power and promise of Chicago 2016 and Games in Chicago would be a watershed event in our movement”.

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, said in a video presentation that if Chicago is selected as host city, she would head a new White House Office for the Olympic Games that will coordinate and oversee the federal activities necessary for the Games. She added, “in addition, should Chicago have the honour of being selected as the 2016 host city, the White House will utilize this new office to ensure the seamless integration of the federal government and its resources to support Chicago’s planning and operations”.

Mario Pescante, a senior Italian member on the IOC executive board, said the Chicago presentation was a step above previous U.S. bids. According to the Associated Press Pescante said, “I have seen lots of presentations by American cities over the years. This time it was different. They were more accessible and low profile. It was important to stress the sports issues. In the past it was more Hollywood style”.

Meanwhile Mayor Daley told the Chicago Tribune Wednesday following Chicago’s presentation that he has removed a major point of contention from Chicago’s bid by agreeing to sign the Olympic host-city contract with no modifications. The city and the bid committee had sent the IOC a letter noting the city may have legal issues agreeing to some of the guarantees required in the standard contract, which requires the host city to take full financial responsibility for the Games. The IOC later replied that it expected everyone to sign the standard contract. Daley said, “we are going to sign it as is”.