October 02, 2009
For the first time in the 120-year history of the Olympics, the Summer Games are headed to South America. In a monumental upset, Rio de Janeiro was named the host city of the 2016 Olympics today after outlasting Madrid in the final round of voting. Chicago, the pre-meeting favorite, was stunningly eliminated on the first ballot.
Rio's bid was boosted by an enthusiastic campaign, support from over 85 percent of citizens of the city, the promise of a Carnival-like party atmosphere and, most importantly, an appeal to the IOC to bring the Olympics to a country that isn't as rich and fully developed as usual Olympics locales like the U.S., England, Spain and Australia. Above all, the IOC is a political entity and going to Brazil was the best politics.
The lure of bringing the first Olympic games to South America and revitalizing Brazil proved to be too attractive to the IOC. Although the circumstances are much different, this vote is reminiscent of when the IOC bucked conventional wisdom and awarded the 2008 Olympics to Beijing. Those Games were thought to usher in a new era of China and served as a platform to reintroduce China to the world.
Chicago had been a considerable favorite, but perhaps too much hope was put in the hands of Barack Obama, who had the unenviable task of reversing decades of anti-American sentiment within the IOC.
Going to Rio was the right move. The Olympics are a global enterprise that have too often been concentrated in Europe and the United States. Going to new places and immersing different cultures in the glory of sport is what this whole Olympic movement was founded upon.
The motives of the IOC might have been impure and perhaps a little self-serving, but that's irrelevant. Rio de Janeiro is a worthy host of the 2016 Olympics. Brazil ao vivo longo!
For more on why Rio bested Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo, read our post from Friday morning in which we predicted how and why Rio de Janeiro would be awarded the Olympics.