- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

You can take the man out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the man. That’s the only explanation we have for President Obama’s creation of a permanent White House Olympics office.

Clearly intended to buttress Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the new office was announced the day before Windy City backers made their final pitch to the International Olympic Committee.

Mr. Obama has named or plans to name 20 or so policy czars to advise him on everything from the Middle East to cybersecurity. Now winning the Olympics for the president’s hometown is added to the executive branch’s list of top priorities.

The office — which goes by the full name of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport — is tasked with coordinating federal resources at the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services on sporting issues. We didn’t know that coordinating Olympic specialists and promoting exercise among youngsters was in such dire need of federal attention and taxpayer funds. The latter part of the mandate overlaps with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

The administration has yet to discuss the cost of the new Olympic office, but the ultimate price won’t be cheap if Chicago wins the games. A 2000 General Accounting Office report found that, “despite the lack of a specifically authorized governmentwide role in the Olympic Games, the federal government has, in effect, become a significant supporter of the Games when hosted in the United States.”

The federal government provided about $75 million in funding and support for the 1984 Los Angeles summer Olympic games, about $609 million for the 1996 Summer games in Atlanta, and over $1.3 billion was allocated for the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games. We shudder to imagine the tab for Olympic Games in Chicago sponsored by a free-spending President Obama.

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