Chicago activists push to clean city for Olympic bid

CHICAGO – The way activists see it, there’s no better time to pressure City Hall into cleaning up trash-strewn alleys and lots in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods than when it’s putting a shine on its pitch to win the 2016 Olympic Games.

So on Thursday, members of Action Now led reporters, photographers and an official with the city’s Olympic committee on a tour of areas they say aren’t kept nearly as clean as picturesque spots like the lakefront and trendy and upscale neighborhoods.

“We see the Olympics as a vehicle to bring money to these blighted areas,” said Denise Dixon, Action Now’s executive director.

She said it can only help the city’s chances to win the 2016 Games if it cleans up what she calls neglected neighborhoods before representatives from the International Olympic Committee inspect Chicago sometime next year.

One Chicago Olympic committee official isn’t so sure that the kind of litter he saw Thursday will matter to the IOC that must choose between Chicago; Tokyo; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Madrid, Spain.

“It’s hard to say how much this will register (with the IOC),” said Gyata M.J. Kimmons, director of community relations for Chicago 2016.