Chicago 2016 Still Frontrunner, Does Public Support Matter?

A source close to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told AFP that Chicago was still the frontrunner in the race for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid are the other three cities bidding for the 2016 Games.

AFP reports the source said after the IOC Evaluation Commission member finished its inspection of Madrid, the last of the four cities, “it is Chicago’s to lose”

The source reportedly said under condition of anonymity, “Chicago would have to mess up in a huge way at the moment for them not to win the race. All they have to do is keep their nerve and play safe. Nothing fancy”.

The source added, “Obama’s support for Chicago has been evident for a very long time, and while it would be obviously a huge thing for him to be present in Copenhagen (where the IOC will elect the 2016 host city), it would also put unbearable pressure on the IOC members.

“To vote out Chicago would mean they had snubbed the most powerful person in the world and to vote in Chicago would lend weight to those within the movement who want state leaders barred from being present at such occasions” said the source.

But AFP says others within the IOC believe that the race is still to close to call and Chicago will be wary of what happened to previous frontrunners such as Paris in the 2012 race and PyeongChang in the 2014 competition.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reports that because of the secret vote, it’s impossible to know how important polls on public support are, or if they are at all important.

Canadian IOC member Beckie Scott said, “I think over 50 per cent is probably a strong enough number for a bid city to go into the election with high hopes. There are so many other factors that go into it. As long as a majority of people say they want the Olympics, then it’s O.K.”

And IOC member Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, who is the head of the IOC finance commission said, “in my view it is generally not much of a factor expect in extremes, i.e. if there is overwhelming support or a sizable and organized opposition to the Games”. He added, “a city doesn’t want to be at the bottom of the list by a large margin”.

IOC member Willi Kaltschmitt of Guatemala said the level of public support is “important but it is not really a factor that can make or break a bid. It is just one of the measurements the evaluation commission makes, and we consider them all. A community can have 100 per cent support, but that won’t help if it is not good in other areas like finance or environment”.

Results of the polling will be disclosed when the IOC evaluation commission report is issued one month ahead of the 2016 host city vote October 2.