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  • Op Ed: Chicago 2016 Needs a Democratic President, Olympic Boycott Games and Autonomy of Sport, Who Cares?


    02/09/08


     
    The hopes of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics may now rest on the outcome of the November 4 election for U.S. President.

    Now that former Salt Lake City Olympics president Mitt Romney has dropped out of the run for the Republican nomination, John McCain is the likely nominee.

    Should McCain be elected, the bid is likely to win lukewarm support, given his past opposition to federal money being used to support Games in the U.S. And with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley one of the national figures of the Democratic Party, a Republican administration has another reason not to care much about Chicago winning the Games. So far, McCain has not had to comment on whether he will back the federal support needed to stage the Games in Chicago.

    As mentioned a number of times in this publication, either Democratic candidate -- Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama -- should be big boosters for Chicago, given their ties to the city. The trouble is that both candidates are vowing to stay in the race until the Democratic National Convention seven months from now. That kind of protracted fight could sour voters on whomever wins the Democratic nomination.

    Could Mitt Romney fit the bill as the next chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee? With his departure from the presidential race this week, Romney has a lot of free time on his hands. Since leaving office two years ago as governor of Massachusetts, running for president has been Romney’s full-time job. Current chair Peter Ueberroth is supposed to step down this year after a single four-year term. Like Ueberroth, Romney would bring experience as a successful corporate executive as well as leadership of an Olympic organizing committee. IOC member and USOC vice president international Bob Ctvrtlik (also a member of the board) also is a possible successor to Ueberroth. The decision is up to the USOC board, which has set no schedule for a decision, at least publicly.

    Can the Prince of Wales boycott the Beijing Olympics if he’s not invited in the first place? The next in line for the throne of England has told Tibetan exiles that he will not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. They promptly turned the decision into an alleged sign of defiance by Charles to Chinese control over the region. But IOC members have pointed out to ATR that since he wasn’t invited to the ceremony, how can his absence be viewed as a boycott?

    His sister Anne, who is the senior IOC member from Great Britain, is expected to be in the stands August 8. And good luck to anybody from Free Tibet with the temerity to tell the Princess Royal what to do.

    Secret talks on sport and government interference open Monday in Lausanne. The IOC President and other leaders from Olympic sport and national Olympic committees meet for their second annual conference on the Autonomy of Sport. The two-day symposium in Lausanne will draw almost 200 participants. But discussions about an issue that arguably requires help from the public will be held behind closed doors; likewise, leaders of the summit aren’t planning a press conference. Maybe the problem isn’t serious enough to talk about openly?


    Op Ed is a weekly column of opinion and ideas from Around the Rings founder and editor-in-chief Ed Hula. Comments, as well as guest columns are welcomed: comment@aroundtherings.com.