Chicago buildings lit up for the IOC commission visit. (ATR/Panansonic Lumix)
Chicago takes the top spot in the new edition of the Around the Rings Olympic Bids Power Index, but Madrid could be the city to watch as the race heads to a finish in four months.
2016 Race Takes Shape: Chicago Leads, Madrid Gains
Chicago maintains the lead in the latest edition of the Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index. The rankings were compiled following on-the-scene trips to each of the four cities hoping to claim the prize of hosting the 2016 Olympics.
Across the range of 11 categories, Chicago scores 80 out of 110 possible points. Madrid follows with 78, outpacing previous second-place holder Rio de Janeiro, which scored 77 as did Tokyo.
Rio de Janeiro offers picturesque views for the Games. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)
A lot has happened since the third edition of the Power Index in September 2008. The bid cities have fully entered the international campaign for the Games, making what seems to be dozens of appearances at events around the globe. The bid books outlining each city’s plan for the Games have been submitted and scrutinized. And perhaps most important of all, the 2016 cities played host to the IOC Evaluation Commission and a roving band of journalists, which allowed up-close looks at the plans and people behind each bid.
The ATR Power Index is the only regularly published review of Olympic bids that includes first-hand visits to all of the cities. The 11 categories range from ambience to venue plans; some categories others are based on 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 to show the relative strengths and weaknesses of the cities.
Accommodation: Quantity, quality and value for money.
|ATR Olympic Bid Power Index -- June 2009|
|*( ) denotes Sept 2008 score.|Tokyo hopes to win the bid for the Games a second time. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)
Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo are at the top of rankings for both quality and quantity. Rio de Janeiro offers a boulevard of aged hotels in Copacabana, cruise ships and Media and Olympic Villages the better part of an hour from the center of the city. Madrid also plans to use a Media Village, although not to the same extent as Rio; both would sequester journalists and media workers miles from the center of the city.Ambience: Is the city comfortable, tourist–friendly, a pleasure to visit?
Is the city comfortable, tourist–friendly, a pleasure to visit?
After visits to each of the four cities in the past two months, the top score goes to Madrid, with the others just a point behind. From airports to hotels to dining and other diversions, Madrid is the most polished host of the four cities. Rio may offer incredible natural beauty, but our latest visit during the IOC Evaluation Commission revealed a city that needs a lot of work to come up to the level offered by all three of its rivals.
Government and bid leaders meet the press at a press conference held at the end of the first day of the IOC commission visit Rio de Janeiro. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)Bid Operation: Leadership, strategy and public relations.
Each city rated equally with seven points; Chicago and Madrid rose in the rankings. Both cities executed the IOC visit with precision. All four bids are run with a high degree of professionalism.
Chicago might score better if the U.S. Olympic Committee weren’t undergoing a sudden leadership transformation. But more important is the emergence of President Barack Obama helping to increase the standing of the U.S. bid.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, nominal leader of the Tokyo bid, showed he can be a lightning rod for trouble with comments about Japan/Korea issues during a press conference while the IOC was visiting.
IOC officials and bid leaders at a photocall in front of a scale model of the city at Tokyo Big Sight, the convention center that would be converted into media centers for the Games. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)
Rio de Janeiro has the emotional edge with an appeal to bring the Olympics to South America for the first time. But bid leaders may be perilously close to overemphasizing their claim to the Games. Rio has deflected some concern about World Cup 2014, noting that infrastructure for the World Cup will make Rio de Janeiro prepared for 2016.
Madrid suffers most of the four cities from the absence of compelling reason to bring the Games to the city. While the bid is touting the low risk of staging the Olympics in Madrid, the risks seem to be the same in each of the cities. Excellent commitment to the bid from government leaders.Games Cost and Finance: Operating expenses and infrastructure needed; unusual finance risks. Higher scores indicate lower costs.
With $30 billion now pledged from the Brazilian government for infrastructure and other work in support of an Olympic Games, the Rio de Janeiro bid has the dubious of honor of being tagged as the city that will need the most spending to host the 2016 Olympics.
The Royal Palace in Madrid was the scene of the official luncheon for the IOC commission. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix )
Tokyo is the only one of the group that plans a grandiose Olympic Stadium, a privately financed $1 billion arena on the shore of Tokyo Bay.
Critics of the Chicago bid love to point out that the city does not have the same guarantees enjoyed by the other three cities: government promises to cover all costs of the Games. Some even say the Chicago bid should be eliminated from the field because of the guarantee issue.
Madrid has a low construction and infrastructure budget, perhaps making that plan for the Games the most affordable of the 2016 field.Last Games in the Country: Years since last summer or winter Olympics. Higher the score, the longer since the games.
Rio de Janeiro gets the only 10 in this latest Power Index: Games in Brazil would be the first ever for South America. Madrid and Chicago score lower as bids from countries that have hosted the Olympics. Tokyo slips as the only previous host city among the four.
In this category Madrid gets another sting, from London 2012. Not since 1948 and 1952 have the Summer Olympics been consecutively held on the same continent. Legacy: Impact of the Olympics in a city; sustainable venues.
Of the 2016 cities, Rio de Janeiro seems to have more to gain from the coming of the Olympics than the other cities. A sagging infrastructure, new sports venues and pockets of abject poverty lend several dimensions to the possible targets for legacy from an Olympic Games.
The United Center in Chicago will be the host venue for basketball at the Games. (ATR/Panasonic:Lumix)
Chicago seems to have the clearest idea among the four on how to leverage the Olympics for the benefit of youth sport.
Tokyo and Madrid will deliver some new venues for the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen, but it’s also hard to see how the Olympics might change either city, both vibrant, prosperous, already well-known. The same might be said for Chicago too.Marketing: The size and impact of marketing programs.
Chicago leads the way, even though some believe its $2.5 billion forecast for marketing revenue is optimistic. Tokyo and Madrid are in the $1.6 billion range, while Rio figures about half that amount.
The Olympic Stadium site is part of the Musubi Cluster, one of five venue zones in the Tokyo bid. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)
During briefings for media during the IOC visit, Rio de Janeiro delivered assurances that their lightweight revenue forecasts were based on conservative assumptions – but World Cup 2014 was not linked to the marketing forecast.
Based on the recent visits to the 2016 cities, Madrid did the best for branding. Its logo with the multi-colored hand popped up all over the city and exuberantly at venues in the Olympic bid.
Tokyo is counting on the appeal for sponsors and broadcasters of an Olympics that would deliver a staggering prime-time audience of more than three billion across East Asia.Government and Public Support
Madrid and Rio de Janeiro are said to have tied for the top place with scores around 85 percent in the survey conducted earlier this year by the IOC. The poll result for Chicago is believed to be in the upper 60s, while Tokyo drew just 56 percent, according to reports from Japan.
Madrid 2016 stakeholders including representatives of the city, regional and national government at a media reception in Parque del Buen Retiro. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)
Tokyo organizers assert that other polling indicates support is growing, with 72 percent the latest number cited by the bid.
All four bids are well-supported by government, although Chicago is the only one without formal guarantees from the national government. But Chicagoan and U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to leave little room to doubt that his administration is ready to do all it can to support the Olympics in Chicago.Security: Reputation and quality of security, perceptions of risk.
Rio de Janeiro has the most to prove among the 2016 cities on the security front, its reputation for safety smudged by episodes of violence and petty crimes against visitors. But Rio de Janeiro makes the point in the bid book and public presentations that the Olympics will help make this city safer.
Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro will host the football competition and opening and closing ceremonies. (ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)
Chicago has long shed its grim image as a city ruled by gun-toting gangsters, but instead security concerns would revolve around crowd safety with a downtown that promises to be packed. As with Madrid, alertness to terrorist threat will be key. The re-emergence of ETA as a security risk is an issue for the Spanish bid.
Tokyo scores the highest in the security category, as it is one of the safest (and most polite) cities in the world. Getting lost in translation might be the biggest risk for visitors, but natural phenomena such as earthquakes and typhoons are possible. Transportation: Ease of travel, multiple transport options, airports, quality of public transit, taxis.
Madrid and Tokyo have the most efficient and modern of mass transit systems in the world, much less the field for the 2016 Games. Tokyo’s big drawback would be the distance from hub airport Narita to the city and the sheer sprawl of negotiating the metropolitan area. Madrid -- a fraction the size of Tokyo -- is a far more scalable city for transit.
Chicago has a well-developed subway and bus system. Major freeways will feed spectators from hundreds of miles away to the city; O'Hare International is one of the world’s most important air hubs.
Oprah Winfrey and IOC Evaluation Commission chair Nawal Moutawakel meet at the City Night gala in Chicago. (Pool photographer)
Rio de Janeiro’s transport system will need a revamp of everything from airport to roadways for the Olympics. With key venue clusters miles apart and an Olympic Village far from the center of the city, quick, reliable transport must be developed. A proposed bus rapid transit line offers promise as an economical solution.
The airport is inferior to those serving the other 2016 bids. Venues and Overall Plan: The number of venues to build, Olympic Village, compactness.
All of the bids seem to offer venues and plans adequate to host the Olympic Games – but with exceptions, minus much “wow” factor.
Chicago offers a plan for the Games that revolves around the center of the city, with a minimum of venues to build. Road cycling and mountain biking have been moved to Madison, Wisconsin, three hours’ drive from Chicago.
The so-called Magic Box, a stunning new tennis and entertainment venue in the south of Madrid. The roof of the building is retractable.(ATR / Panasonic:Lumix)
Madrid places its main venue cluster and Olympic Village northeast of the city near the airport. Three other clusters are scattered around the city, but all are well-connected by transit and roadway. Sailing in Valencia makes this Madrid’s farthest venue. More than 70 percent of the Madrid venues already exist.
Rio de Janeiro has a legacy of venues from the 2007 Pan Ams and also would benefit from the World Cup. But the Olympic Village and Olympic Park in the far western suburbs of Rio de Janeiro are still to be built, and would be far from hotels and the city center. Copacabana, the most famous area of Rio, would host beach volleyball triathlon and the marathon swim. The nearby rowing venue in a lagoon below Cristo Redentor is breathtaking.
Tokyo says its plan is most compact, with the greatest number of venues within five miles of the Olympic Village. The stadium, budgeted for $1 billion, is the most expensive competition venue called for in the field of 2016 cities. These venues and others, such as aquatics center and Main Press Center and IBC, are located in the far east of the city on reclaimed land. While well-connected to the city, the venues seem removed from its ambiance.