Well, so much for that. Chicago was ousted from consideration at the IOC meeting on Friday. The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Not a huge surprise. As a bid city, Chicago was a pretty big long shot. The U.S. has hosted the games in the recent past, anti-American sentiment has not yet subsided and that beating death certainly didn't help the city's case.
What I don't get is how in the world Chicago could have come in last place in the voting. Fourth out of four? That outcome seems a little suspect, especially considering the star-studded delegation we sent that included the First couple, Oprah Winfrey and our own Kerri Walsh. Clearly, having a U.S. President address the IOC for the first time ever should have given us some sort of a boost.
Some fault Obama for going to Copenhagen at all when we are in the midst of a crisis. But as a fan of the Olympics and a believer in what hosting the Games can do for a city's infrastructure and notoriety, I'm impressed that our President was willing to put himself on the line for his adopted home town.
I heard a pundit on a political talk show say that it was a major mistake for Obama's people to send him somewhere when they weren't guaranteed a win. But as an athlete, that sounds crazy to me. If something is worth fighting for, it is worth trying and falling short. What kind of athletes would we be if we only played the games we knew we could win?
Going up against a continent like South America that has inexplicably never hosted an Olympics was an uphill battle. Blaming poverty and crime for the slight doesn't hold water. These things exist everywhere including in all the past Olympic host cities. If nothing else, the Olympics gives the city an excuse to clean up bad neighborhoods, develop public transportation systems and build infrastructure.
The argument can be made that hosting the Olympics is not the financial boon many may think it is. But if the city plans carefully, it can and has led to a higher standard of living for residents.
I'm a little bit sad that Chicago didn't win. But at the same time I am excited for Rio. I look forward to the stunning backdrops and festival atmosphere we'll see from a city that is thrilled to be given the opportunity. And I can't be the only one who is excited about the prospect of sitting on Copacabana beach watching the sand volleyball competition unfold in about seven years. Can I?