June 17, 2009
Last August, we handicapped the odds of which city would get awarded the 2016 Olympics. With each of the four bidding cities making presentations to the IOC today, we've updated those odds. Four months from now, before the IOC makes its final vote, we'll make our final predictions:
Chicago: 3-2 (Last time: Even) -- Though Chicago is still the favorite to land the '16 Games, its lead seems to have narrowed in recent months.
No U.S. Olympic bid has ever received an underwriting guarantee from the federal government, so it's no surprise that Chicago's bid won't receive one either. In today's financial climate though, that might be a bigger deal than it was when Atlanta received the 1996 Olympics. (This despite the fact that Jacques Rogge says finances shouldn't be a consideration in determining a host city, which is sort of like saying that Freddie Mac shouldn't take into consideration a person's finances before handing out mortgage loans. Hmmm ... Perhaps that's not the best example.)
Barack Obama's symbolic creation of a White House office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport yesterday only further highlights the lack of government financial support.
Madrid: 20-1 (Last time: 20-1) -- We said it in August and we'll say it again today. It's hard to imagine the IOC going back to Europe for back-to-back Olympiads. It's only 1,000 miles from London to Madrid. The last time two consecutive Olympics were held so close together was in 1948 and 1952 when the sites went from London to Helsinki.
Rio de Janiero: 2-1 (Last time: 3-2) -- Rogge's statement about legacy being more important than finances could also be read as, "we're going to South America, money concerns be damned." The best thing Rio's bid has going for it is the fact that the Olympics have never been held in South America. The chance to open up that continent to the Games could be a huge selling point with the IOC.
Tokyo: 5-2 (Last time: 5-1) -- For all the talk about how money isn't important, it is. It always is. And Tokyo has the most of it. The Japanese bid has secured $4 billion in financing for the Games, something that could make IOC members forget that they just left an Asian host city one year ago.