ED NOTE. CHICAGO WAS ELIMINATED IN THE FIRST ROUND OF VOTING FOR THE 2016 OLYMPICS
Tomorrow, the IOC makes the announcement who will host the 2016 Summer Olympiad. I am a resident of Chicago and I am against holding the Olympics in this city. Although I am a sports fanatic and love the Olympic Games…seriously, how many people you know wake up overnight to watch Badminton live from Sydney or Beijing? I love the athletics, the patriotism, the pomp and circumstance. I even enjoy thousands of Chinese men performing a ritualistic war dance that scares the shit out of me. I just can’t get excited about seeing the games in my adopted hometown. There is just too much wrong that can happen, and frankly I dont trust the government structure in place to pull it off without costing the taxpayers. Give the games to Rio – Id much rather have an excuse to fly to Brazil anyway.
I have seen a few ridiculous, conservative columns out there arguing why Obama should not fly to Copenhagen to support the Chicago bid. This – simply put – is stupid. Why should the President not through support behind an American Olympic bid? Do people expect that if he spent the extra flight time in his office that Health Care would be solved? Afghanistan? The economy? Chicago started the bidding process well before Obama even announced his candidacy. To try and spin this into some type of cronyism is a crock.
However, I have a few legitimate reasons why I am not for the Olympics being held in Chicago. I am not alone in being against hosting the Chicago Olympics. This month, the Chicago Tribune & WGN had a poll that showed support for the Games at 47%, while 45% were against it. A tepid response to say the least. Wouldnt you expect more people to drive for such a huge event in their hometown?
First of all, is the cost. The estimated budget for the 2016 Olympics is $4-$5 billion dollars. This number is only an estimate. London is currently twice to three times above their budget estimate for the 2012 games. Guess who gets the privilege to carry the shortage costs if the budget is wrong? The citizens of Chicago! That’s right, our city council signed an agreement that taxpayers are on the hook for additional costs. This should make all residents happy, coming from the city government with a 12% sales tax that still runs budget deficits. Or who short-sightedly privatize parking meters and has to issue an apology 6 months later realizing what a gaffe it was. Is this really the economic boom, Chicago thinks it will be? Past Olympic events suggest Mayor Daley’s crown jewel will not stimulize the city as much as they want us to believe. Chicago resident and ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski says it best:
But, say the proponents, the Olympics will revitalize Chicago. That’s one of the arguments: The Games will breast-feed economic development and progress. That’s nice. But how about revitalizing local schools, hospitals and police departments? Page 2 headline in Tuesday’s USA Today: Obama to give final push to his hometown’s bid for 2016 Olympics. Page 3 headline: Violence haunts Chicago streets.
My second concern is the disruption to daily life. This city is hard enough to get around. Im not sure how I feel about running my life around the construction an Olympic Games will bring over the next 7 years. The infrastructure, while practical is not world-class. Sure hosting the games will bring a reason to begin improving the highways and railways, but isnt this something the city is already gradually doing anyway? I know it seems to be at a snail’s pace at times, but at least its systematic. Im afraid the massive re-work necessary to put on this showcase will completely hijack city life as I know it.
I love America. I love the Olympics. But this is one ménage à trois, I want no part of.