- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

The cost overruns go to Rio de Janeiro. So, too, the bedlam, gridlock and condemnation of the IOC if one limousine runs late.

Those are a few of the drawbacks to being the host of the Olympics. There are a zillion others, not the least of which is the projected economic benefit to a city. That figure often comes cooked in new math, fantasy and pressure from the top.

Chicago should consider itself lucky to have avoided the unruly monstrosity known as the Olympics in 2016, if not ever thankful.

That is not the feeling of political Chicago, of course. City leaders inevitably do whatever it takes to convince the stuffed shirts of the International Olympic Committee that their locale is the best of the lot. That means billions of dollars, which Chicago does not have.


That is merely an accounting program, in case you didn’t know. The luxury of being a lawmaker is you get to spend other people’s money while paying only lip service to the bottom line.

Chicago even had the benefit of President Obama making an 11th-hour plea on its behalf in Copenhagen. Oprah, too. It did not matter. Chicago, the so-called front-runner, was the first of the four cities to be dismissed after receiving only 18 votes.

No telling what the vote count would have been if President Obama had not genuflected before the 94 IOC voters.

The props in orange T-shirts at Daley Plaza cried on cue before crying foul over the IOC voting process.

That was especially rich, given Chicago’s history of the dead pulling levers on Election Day.

About half of Chicago’s taxpayers were against the Olympics coming to their city.

They understood the costs, both to their quality of life and to a budget already awash in red ink. They understood that the Olympic movement is about paying homage to the well-heeled and well-connected.

The masses are usually limited to out-of-the-way venues and competitions that baffle nearly everyone. Or they can volunteer and pass out pamphlets to the visitors who are forever losing their way.

The so-called boost to civic pride is actually a boost to the politician who performs the proper number of somersaults before the IOC. Every politician is on the prowl for a legacy, and somehow keeping potholes filled lacks the appeal of securing an Olympiad.

Atlanta was Atlanta before and after the Olympics. The same with Salt Lake City. These cities did not need the blessing of the IOC to be considered worthy. In the case of Atlanta, charged with being crass and vulgar, the IOC delegates bit the commercial hand that fed them well.

The IOC can be bought, just not easily. That is a game Chicago’s politicians know well, which explained their befuddlement. They thought their bid would last to the final round.

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