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  • Chicago Sun-Times- 2nd-guessing: '1st-round fluke'? Poor politicking?


    10/05/09

    LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporter ldonovan@suntimes.com

    October 3, 2009

    COPENHAGEN -- What torpedoed the Windy City's Olympic dreams?
    Following Friday's stunning vote by the International Olympic Committee that sent Chicago packing, the Olympic world was abuzz about what went wrong.

    Perhaps it was the 45-minute wait for a one-on-one chat with first lady Michelle Obama, as one IOC member said.
    Or maybe Chicago's Olympic bid team, in its final presentation Friday, fell flat -- and simply didn't convey the passion and energy they loved to talk about, as some observed.

    Even the United States Olympic Committee admits it needs to do more to court IOC members -- or the U.S. will continue to be handed similar defeats in years to come.

    Others presented conspiracy theories about vote trading and geopolitical alignments pushing out Chicago.
    The city garnered just 18 votes -- out of a possible 94 -- in the opening vote.

    Was it a "first-round fluke,'' in which a top candidate city accidentally gets bounced as IOC members throw support behind countries in their regions instead of the city they truly preferred?

    "I was expecting, at some point, the possibility of one of the favorites going out in the first round because of the distribution of votes, because of the close spread between them and because of a fundamental weakness in the U.S. bid," said Ed Hula, who runs the venerable Olympics Web site aroundtherings.com.

    All of the finalists -- Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and winner Rio de Janeiro -- were fully capable of hosting the Games, Hula said. But the three losing cities failed to answer the question, "Why there?" he said.

    "Every place now can have a great Olympics, the point is you have to distinguish yourself," Hula said.
    The testy, even distant relationship the United States Olympic Committee has with the IOC has been mentioned as a factor that hurt Chicago. But USOC officials in Copenhagen denied the recent flare-ups over revenue sharing and a USOC television network may have tanked Chicago's plan.

    "The United States within the Olympic movement hasn't engaged as well as we could have," said Bob Ctvrtlik, a former IOC member and the USOC's vice chair of international relations. "There's a lot of politics going on. This isn't just on the merits."

    The bulk of the 106-member IOC -- which includes just two members from the United States -- hails from Europe. Did anti-American sentiment play a role?

    "I don't think it's anti-American. I think maybe we still don't have the horsepower to do some of the things, politicking, within the group," Ctvrtlik said.

    And the Obama factor may have, in small ways, hurt the U.S. bid. One IOC member told Hula the wait time to meet with her was 45 minutes.

    "I had an IOC member say, 'Mrs. Obama is a really nice lady, but it was too much of a fuss,' " Hula said.

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/olympics/1804726,CST-NWS-oly04.article