Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Choice To Host the 2016 Games

Friday will be a special day for one of the four cities bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games as Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo all await the vote that will make one of them the Game's host city.

Everyone has their favorite, the place they hope will win - typically simply a case of nationalistic pride. But as much as I would love to see another Olympics held here in the US, Chicago is not my choice this time around.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Windy City. And with Obama-mania having taken hold in the US I'm sure that preparations would be superb. The city would put on a first class celebration, and the venues would be on par with any ever used for a Games. I have no doubt of these things. Not to mention that I would most certainly attend! Right here in my own back yard? A must do event to be sure.

But as much as I would love to have Chicago win the bid - and will cheer heartily if they do - they are not my first choice. Why? Because the Olympics are not supposed to be about just the United States. The Olympics were created to foster peace throughout the world. It's supposed to be a GLOBAL event, shared by all. Which is why I have to eliminate Chicago - because we've been the host several times now.

It's also why I have to eliminate Madrid, because Spain was host fairly recently (1992). More importantly however, is that Europe has become the "Host Continent" of the Games. Confining what is supposed to be a global celebration to a very small area of the world. That's why I would like to see the "world" more involved in the Games. And why I have to eliminate Tokyo as well, as Asia just played host - and Tokyo has had a turn previously ('64).

By now you can guess where I would like to see the Games held - Rio de Janeiro. Rio is a large, metropolitan city in the largest country on the continent of South America. A continent that has NEVER hosted the Games. Fully half of the Western Hemisphere, and not once in over a 100 years has a Games been there. Somewhat tragic when you stop to think about it.

When you take into account that Africa has also been shut out of the Games as host. Or that highly populated areas such as India and Indonesia have never had the opportunity. Well over half the population of the world has not had the opportunity to serve as host. And that number would have climbed by over a billion if China had not just served as host!

So, as much as I will be ecstatic should Chicago win, it's really time to break up the "good old boy network" system of choosing the Games hosts. A more rotational system needs to be established that would spread the Games world wide.

I'm sure there will be many that will say that several areas have not played host due to economic reasons. But as "poor" as the continents of South America and Africa may be, they too have thriving cities amongst the poverty - just as we and Europe have poverty among our thriving cities! The IOC should develop a program to work with cities like Buenos Aires, Caracas, Santiago, Abidjan, Lagos, and Cairo to develop them as Olympic hosts. Because all have the ability to do so. It may even behoove the rest of the world to somehow contribute to such efforts. After all THAT would be more in tune with the ideals that created the Games.

So I, like the rest of the world, wait with baited breath for tomorrow's vote and decision. I will cheer the selection of which ever city wins the bid. But this is my plea to the IOC to look at spreading the wealth of the Games throughout the world.

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