No harm saying it today.
I have long thought that Rio is the right place to hold the Olympics.
To me, I thought that it was finally South America's turn to host the games.
In recent weeks, seeing repeated news accounts describing how the Brazilian economy - as opposed to America's - was doing quite well, I felt even stronger that the IOC would go for Rio, and I agreed that Rio was a better choice.
I was concerned about Chicago's priorities. Our budget deficit concerned me. This nation's multi trillion dollar deficit still concerned (and still concerns) me greatly. We will likely be immersed in an enormous economic pickle in the next seven years. With the city services being so strained, can we devote the time and attention to hosting the Games?
Yet I, like so many others, got caught up in the excitement of the Chicago 2016 bid. I wanted to believe that we were the best city to host the 2016 games.
What about the economic benefits of the games? Construction jobs? Hotel jobs - not just during the three weeks of the games, but in the years building up to the Games when businesses and other folks would come to Chicago to help plan for this enormous undertaking? The trickle down approach - hotel jobs, restaurant jobs, cabs, etc. - enhanced economic activity and the increased attention of being an Olympic City might make it all worth it!
And then I thought a lot about the benefit to Chicago of being unified behind the games. The spirit and enthusiasm - let alone civic pride.? And it would be fun! Yes. Chicago can do it. Yes, we will ultimately pay for it through increased taxes and fees, but it would be something cool happening - proof that Chicago can and will transform and grow.
So, over time and after considerable vacillation, I became supportive of Chicago's bid.
Earlier this week, while at a Rogers Park networking function, I spoke with a gentleman who has been involved in helping build community support for Chicago's games. Viewing him as being somewhat of an insider, I hit him up for insight.
"If Obama goes to Copenhagen, we win."
Here was the scoop: the African IOC members - around 18 of them - are the only coalition that vote as a bloc. And, he said, they love Obama. "If Obama makes the trip" he said, "the African contingent will vote for us, and their votes will push us over the top."
"Ah" I thought, excited about getting an insider's perspective. "So that explains why Barack changed his mind and he is now going. He needs to woo this specific voting faction"
I decided to do what most of us do with valuable insider type information.
I email blasted it to all of my friends.
Presuming that my non Chicagoan friends and family rely on me, THE local, for insight and perspective, I shared this interesting tidbit to friends and family in such remote news deprived locales as Oak Park, Winnetka, Deerfield.
"Based on a conversation I had with strong sources, here is what's going to happen" I wrote in my email, suddenly sensing how great gossip columnists feel sharing their scoops. I explained the African voting bloc theory.
"With Barack going to Copenhagen, we are in!"
I stayed up late last night/early this morning to watch Chicago's presentation on TV. Barack nailed it. He was superb. And Michelle was great as well. We are in.
This morning I was so confident that I didn't think it necessary for me to be at Daley Plaza an hour ahead of the final announcement, when they would announce the results from the first round vote. I just needed to be there around twenty minutes before the final announcement. At 10:30AM, driving my car towards Daley Plaza, video camera in hand, I listened to News Radio 78, and, like everyone else, was in a state of dire shock when they announced that Chicago lost in the first round.
I parked at the lot near the East Bank and decided to go to Daley Plaza anyway, yet leaving the video camera in the car. I flagged a cab for the six block drive to the Plaza.
The cab's radio was also set to the same station as mine was.
"It sucks" he announced. "We were all counting on making some money. How are we going to make money now?" he complained.
A minute later the downtrodden cab driver finally acknowledged that he wouldn't really have been able to cash in on cab rides for affluent Olympic visitors for another few years, but his frustration spoke volumes about lost economic opportunity and a general feeling of malaise that might now take over the City. What do we have to look forward to now? The Bears? The Blackhawks? Blagojevich?
The mood at Daley Plaza was equally somber. I watched the hot NBC anchorwoman (who looks as good in person as she does on camera) conduct a few interviews, and then took off.
I don't know if other Chicago enthusiasts really care, but I felt that if we were not to get it, I was glad to see Rio win.
I'm excited for them. Rio looks like a beautiful exciting city. And the beach volleyball games WILL rock!