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  • Race for 2016 Tightens for Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index


    One point is all that separates the four cities in the race for the 2016 Olympics: that's based on the results of the latest edition of the Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index. The third edition of this contest's ranking is the only authoritative, independent review of the race for the 2016 Games.

    Chicago Leads, But Barely

    Based on the strengths of its venue plan and infrastructure, the U.S. bid from Chicago keeps its spot as the leader in the ATR Power Index -- but just by a single point over the rest of the field. Chicago scores 77, with Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro tied at 76.

    That lead is trivial. In a practical sense, the race is tied among the four cities. Each have indisputable assets, each comes with liabilities.

    All the scores in this latest edition of the ATR Power Index have changed since the May rating. Chicago and Rio de Janeiro slide, while Madrid and Tokyo rise slightly.

    This latest edition of the index takes into account extensive contacts with the bid cities during the Beijing Olympics and the Paralympics. We also draw upon findings of the report issued in June by a panel of IOC technical experts who reviewed the field of seven applicant cities.

    That IOC Working Group report led to a short list of four cities, with Baku, Azerbaijan; Doha, Qatar, and Prague, Czech Republic, cut from the contest.

    The Power Index scores are ranked from 1 to 10 across 11 categories ranging from ambience to venue plans. Some categories are subjective, others are based on hard numbers provided by the bid cities or gathered by ATR.

    The rankings are not meant to predict the outcome of the IOC vote on October 2, 2009, but do show the relative strengths and weaknesses of the cities. The ATR Power Index for the 2014 Winter Olympics indicated the top two contenders – Sochi and PyeongChang – were tied going into the IOC vote. Sochi narrowly won.

    ATR Olympic Bid Power Index -- September 2008
    Categories: Chicago Rio Tokyo Madrid
    Accommodation 9 (9) 7 (7) 8 (8) 7 (5)
    Ambience 8 (8) 8 (8) 8 (8) 8 (7)
    Bid Operation 6 (7) 7 (8) 7 (7) 6 (7)
    Games Cost 7 (8) 8 (8) 7 (6) 8 (7)
    Last Games 6 (6) 7 (8) 6 (5) 6 (6)
    Legacy 6 (6) 8 (8) 6 (4) 6 (6)
    Marketing 7 (7) 6 (6) 7 (7) 6 (6)
    Public Support 7 (7) 7 (7) 6 (6) 8 (7)
    Security 7 (7) 5 (6) 7 (7) 7 (7)
    Transport 7 (7) 6 (6) 7 (7) 7 (6)
    Venue Plans 7 (7) 7 (7) 7 (7) 7 (7)
    POWER INDEX 77 76 76 76
    (May 2008)
    79 79 72 71
    *( ) denotes May 2008 score.

    Accommodation: Quantity, quality and value for money.

    Chicago and Tokyo both offer the greatest number of existing rooms, but Chicago provides better value. Madrid has a strong hotel infrastructure but not as many large properties as Chicago or Tokyo. Rio de Janeiro needs more rooms.

    Ambience: Is the city comfortable, tourist–friendly, a pleasure to visit?
    Chicago O'Hare Airport. (ATR)

    We now rate all cities equally. Chicago presents a Games at the center of the city, surrounded by parks, shops, hotels, dining and entertainment in a lakefront environment. For natural beauty, none of the cities can match the dramatic landscape of Rio de Janeiro or the easygoing Carioca lifestyle. Tokyo’s big city ambience and amenities make it a desirable destination. Madrid offers sophistication as one of the cultural capitals of the world.

    Bid Operation: Leadership, strategy and public relations.

    Both Chicago and Rio de Janeiro lose a point in the category since the May rankings. Chicago is being held back over the failure of the USOC and IOC to agree on a new split of revenues from Olympic sponsors and broadcast rights.

    Rio de Janeiro has begun to emphasize the lack of an Olympics for South America as a driver for the Games in Brazil rather than how Rio de Janeiro will heed the needs of the athletes.

    The latest changes in the national government could leave Tokyo without a strong national leader to help pitch the bid at the IOC Session in Copenhagen.

    All the bids now have credible and professional public relations teams to help deal with the media.

    All four bids were active in Beijing during the Games.

    Chicago was the only one not hosting a press conference, but bid leadership was easily accessible to the press. Bid chairman Patrick Ryan made the rounds of receptions while Mayor Richard Daley made the longest visit to Beijing of the 2016 mayors. The U.S. Olympic Committee’s USA House may have been the premier hospitality center among the bids. With the end of the IOC term for Bob Ctvrtlik, the U.S. is down to two IOC members, but he continues in a leading role for the bid as USOC vice president, international.

    Rio scored points with its introduction of Pele to the media, but his presence still could not deflect questions about security at the press conference where he was introduced. Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva hosted reporters to talk about Rio de Janeiro, showing that his personality will be one of the bid's assets. Bid leaders Carlos Nuzman and Carlos Osorio visited Hong Kong and Qingdao in timing that paralleled the travel of IOC President Jacques Rogge to those venue cities.

    Tokyo bid leader Ichiro Kono and his colleagues were seen at many events in Beijing and their media staff may be the most active of the 2016 bids.

    Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose idea it is to go for the Games, appeared briefly in Beijing but remained elusive to the media, unlike politicians involved with rival bids.
    Tokyo site of the Olympic village. (ATR)

    The Madrid team is solid. But it may be the one of the group that needs some spark, as their presence seemed the most low-key in Beijing. Bid chief Mercedes Coghen along with Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon and Sports Minister Jaime Lissavetsky hosted a press conference early in the Games. Queen Sofia had the chance to meet with about 20 IOC members during a reception at Casa Espana.

    All four cities sent high-level delegations to the Paralympics, a sign that each treats this event with importance.

    Games Cost and Finance: Operating expenses and infrastructure needed; unusual finance risks. Higher scores indicate lower costs.

    Tokyo plans about $9.2 billion in infrastructure spending for the Games with $2.1 billion for venues, half of that for an Olympic Stadium.

    Rio lists $2.6 billion in transport spending ahead of 2016. The budget of $507 million for venues is lowest of the field, a direct result of hosting the 2007 Pan American Games.

    Chicago will spend about $800 million on venues, a number the IOC Working Group says may be too low. Chicago also was singled for needing documents that followed IOC wording for financial guarantees. The Chicago bid lists $27 billion of transport projects, regardless of the Olympics.

    Madrid infrastructure is billed at $8.7 billion; $1.4 billion is planned for Olympic venues.

    The IOC report on the 2016 cities gave the best scores in the finance category to Madrid and Tokyo.

    Last Games in the Country: Years since last summer or winter Olympics. Higher the score, the longer since the games.

    Rio de Janeiro wins the high scores in this category, with South America never hosting the Games. As mentioned earlier, Rio de Janeiro may need to make sure it does not overplay this emotional issue.

    Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo take middling scores as all three are from countries that have hosted the Games; however, it should be noted that Spain has hosted the Games just once, in 1992.

    Legacy: Impact of the Olympics in a city; sustainable venues.

    Rio de Janeiro plans a new Olympic Park that could become a training center for elite athletes across South America. The Olympic Village is targeted for private housing after the Games.

    Chicago would gain new venues for aquatics, canoeing/rowing and equestrian. The Olympic Village would become a new residential district in the city center.

    Madrid’s plan would develop new venues and reclaim abandoned areas for parks and housing.
    The Palacio de Deportes of the Community of Madrid. (ATR)
    Madrid alone among the cities is pushing for a social legacy to improve the well–being of its people.

    Tokyo would deliver new venues for the 21st Century at the same time employing a number of iconic venues from the 1964 Games. Tokyo Metropolitan Government wants to use the Games to create a green city.

    It will be interesting to see how the cities respond in their bid books next February to questions the IOC is now asking about commitments for post-Games use of sports venues. They are essentially asking the cities to provide some substance to legacy claims.

    Marketing: The size and impact of marketing programs.

    Chicago, with $2.5 billion forecast for marketing revenue, leads the 2016 cities. Tokyo and Madrid are in the $1.6 billion range, while Rio figures about half that amount.

    Rio de Janeiro might be pressed to prove that the hosting of the 2014 World Cup won’t cut into the estimated $750 million in revenues the Rio Bid Committee expects the Games to receive from sponsors and ticket sales.

    The IOC Working Group labeled as optimistic the projections from Chicago and Madrid, while Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo received a feasible review.

    The report also noted the need for the Chicago bid to establish a joint marketing agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

    Public Support: Ranking based on IOC polling contained in Working Group report.

    Madrid leads with 89 percent support, Rio next with 78 percent, Chicago at 76 percent and Tokyo with 60 percent public support.

    Security: Reputation and quality of security, perceptions of risk.

    Security is the biggest question IOC members seem to have about Rio de Janeiro, with its reputation for gang violence and street crime. The 2007 Pan American Games were problem–free but Rio de Janeiro will have to say more than that to convince skeptics. Brazilian President Lula da Silva has been quick to point out that his country does not face the terrorism threat experienced in other countries, but IOC members still worry about street crime in Rio.

    Terrorism is an issue for the U.S. and Spain, Tokyo to a lesser degree, but security resources of all three are at a high level.

    Transportation: Ease of travel, multiple transport options, airports, quality of public transit, taxis.

    Chicago seems to be best prepared across the multiple factors in this category with the best airport and roadways of the group, although the IOC Working Group gives better scores to Madrid and Tokyo. Undergrounds in Madrid and Tokyo clearly are the superior systems.

    Rio de Janeiro will need improvements to its airport and surface street transit to handle the Olympics, which will require construction of a high speed bus line.

    Venues and Overall Plan: The number of venues to build, Olympic Village, compactness.

    All the bids claim compact venue schemes.

    Chicago would appear to be the most city-centered with the Olympic Village close to the action of downtown and the Lake Michigan shoreline. Chicago may have to consider housing for equestrian and shooting athletes, with both venues more than one hour away from the village. Of the 30 venues planned, 47 percent are existing. A temporary Olympic Stadium is planned.

    Rio de Janeiro has a moderate construction budget, thanks to the 2007 Pan Ams and the coming World Cup. Venues are spread across the sprawling metropolis, which means travel times of 30 minutes and longer from the Olympic Village for a number of sports. A new Olympic Village would border the planned Olympic Park in a western suburb. Rio de Janeiro plans 33 venues, 54 percent existing.
    The 10k open water swim in the waters off Copacabana during the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro. (Getty)
    Tokyo says its plan is most compact, with the greater number of venues within 8km of the Olympic Village. The stadium, budgeted for $1 billion, is the most expensive venue in the field of 2016 cities. The Olympic Village site is close to Tokyo Bay and served by the Metro. The Tokyo plan calls for 32 venues with 69 percent existing.

    Madrid’s plan is integrated with rail and roadways, venue clusters perched on the edge of the city to avoid congestion. A high percentage of venues already exist (68 percent) out of 34 planned for the Games. Landlocked Madrid will host sailing in Palma de Majorca, about 550km away.