Illinois Governor’s Arrest Won’t Affect Chicago 2016 – IOC Members

Several members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Tuesday won’t have an impact on Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The Chicago Tribune quotes IOC member Prince Albert of Monaco Wednesday saying, “anything like that can’t help. But it doesn’t touch the technical aspect of the bid or the infrastructure side, just the political atmosphere around the bid and I shouldn’t think it will have too much of an impact”.

The Tribune reports every member asked about the governor’s arrest was aware of the situation. Blagojevich was arrested and charged with conspiring to sell president-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat, among other charges.

Norway’s Gerhard Heiberg, an executive board member said, “it shouldn’t have any effect. The governor’s behaviour is irrelevant to the bid”.

Board member Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico said Blagojevich’s limited role in the bid diminishes any negative fallout. He said, “its very sad if the charges are proved, but I don’t think it will affect the Chicago bid one way or another. I haven’t seen him involved in the campaign at all”.

Mario Pescante of Italy, another board member added, “Mayor (Richard Daley) is more important”.

IOC executive board member Sam Ramsamy of South Africa said, “my impression is this will not have an effect on Chicago. Politics is an issue we all have to face from time to time”.

Before the U.S. Olympic Committee chose Chicago as the U.S. candidate for the 2016 Games the governor pledged $150 million in state funds as part of $1.15 billion in financial guarantees the bid is offering, but the pledge has not been backed by legislation.

The newspaper reports the guarantee is a major issue for Chicago’s bid because it is the only one of the four finalists without the full backing of governmental entities.

Gilbert Felli, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director said, “I don’t know enough about the nature of Chicago’s guarantees. In some countries when a person who gives a guarantee changes, so does the guarantee. In other countries there is no difference”.

Chicago 2016 reportedly has not used Blagojevich’s image in any of the videos it made to promote the bid internationally.