Just days before the International Olympic Committee is set to announce the host for the 2016 Summer Olympics, candidate city Rio de Janeiro canceled international swim events because of a lack of funding. A World Cup for next month and events scheduled for the next three years are all off because Rio, quite simply, doesn't have the cash to make it happen.
“There are no financial resources. They cannot find any funding. They say they cannot do it,” Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of swimming governing body FINA, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Rio de Janeiro is said to be neck and neck with Chicago, followed by Madrid and Tokyo, in the race to win the 2016 Olympics. At this point in the bid process, candidate cities are pulling out all the stops to prove their city's worthiness. This sort of slip-up can cast quite the pall on the Rio bid.
One of the main things that the IOC looks at in selecting a host city is the success a candidate city has had in hosting previous international sporting events. Having hosted the Pan-American Games -- a North and South American version of the Olympics -- Rio had an edge in this category. But shutting down an event that is just a month away for lack of money could prove a body blow for Rio's bid.
The chief of FINA claims that this shouldn't affect Rio's chances for the Olympics:
“I only know about my own sport, and there will be no World Cup in Rio for the next four years,” he said. “The Olympic Games is a different budget. Rio’s proposals for aquatics venues are very good.”
Right. Marculescu wisely says that he only knows his own sport, sidestepping the question. It wouldn't look good for the head of the governing body of one of the Olympics' showcase sports to come out and say, "What are they thinking?!?"
Canceling the swim events in Rio plays in contrast to a Chicago bid that is downright jubilant. The city's delegation, chock full of Olympians, left O'Hare International Airport amid a good luck party, and arrived to the cheers of Danes wearing Chicago Bears colors.
The city also has added two of its most well-known residents to the delegation. Oprah Winfrey signed on last week, and reversing an earlier decision, Pres. Obama will now travel to Copenhagen for Chicago's presentation.
Will all this be enough for the Windy City, or will Rio still win out? Can Tokyo or Madrid pull the upset? Keep checking with Fourth-Place Medal as we follow the bid. FPM will have full coverage on Friday, when the announcement is made in Copenhagen.