Politics may affect location of 2016 Summer Olympics

By Allyson Kloster

A year from now, the International Olympic Committee will have just decided who will host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Will it be Madrid or Tokyo, cities on continents that most recently held the Summer Games? Will it be Rio de Janeiro, a city on a continent that’s never held an Olympics?

Or will it be Chicago?

I have a hunch that most readers are pulling for Chicago. If not, that’s cool. Not everyone has to dig the $5 billion Olympics proposal. (Remember, that’s just the projected number.)

Regardless, we’re all wondering the same thing: How much of a chance does Chicago have at winning the bid?

My fellow Americans, all I can say is this – don’t get your hopes up.

Although there have been many reports saying Chicago looks great on paper and has the recipe for success, this doesn’t mean much.

When the IOC’s evaluation commission examines the cities this year, their criteria will be more than the official mumbo-jumbo they tell the public.

Sure, new United States Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst said a U.S.-hosted Olympics will rake in more dough than any other country.

Sure, Chicago’s proposed strategy focuses on efficiency of resources rather than using every resource available.

Sure, Chicago is one of the biggest sports cities in the country, so residents will respect the athletes who grace the Lakeshore.

But it doesn’t matter if Chicago’s venues, transportation system, finances and security plans are more organized and efficient than Disneyworld.

What will inevitably make the IOC’s decision is something more subversive and far-reaching.

That “something” is politics.

I don’t know why the IOC is trying to knock America down a few pegs. Perhaps it has to do with the Iraq War and/or President Bush.

But who cares? We can’t do anything about it. What we can do is to flaunt what we’ve got.

And boy, oh boy, we’ve got politics! If that’s how the IOC is making its decision, then Chicago should have no problems.

But the city known for its back room political deal-making might be meeting its match with the IOC (maybe that explains why Mayor Richard Daley is playing such a prominent role in Chicago’s efforts). It seems that ever since baseball and softball were removed from the Olympics lineup in July 2005, the IOC has done whatever it can to make political statements to America.

It’s no stretch of the imagination to see why it yanked baseball. Since major leaguers weren’t allowed to play for their home countries, be it America, Cuba or Liechtenstein, the entire sport was removed.

This isn’t that big of a deal, though, since baseball is only big in America, so no one else would really be affected.

Yeah right. The IOC knows this isn’t true, just like they know that softball is growing in international popularity.

But by eliminating baseball because it is allegedly too controlled by American businessmen, the IOC is leading the international community to blame America for baseball getting the boot. In turn, this portrays the IOC as knights in shining armor since they are showing America who’s boss.

And by lumping softball into a fight it wasn’t a part of, the IOC shows how little they care about the sport. Many IOC members said they didn’t realize they were voting against softball when they voted against baseball. Others didn’t know the difference between the two; they thought they were the same.

If the IOC carelessly removed softball and baseball, what makes us think they won’t do the same with the Chicago bid?

This is not to say that Chicago has no chance at winning the Olympics hosting job. It just shows how the USOC has a lot of work to do by October 2009.

Come on, Chicago. You’ve always been better at politics than sports. This Olympics is yours for the taking. Just be prepared.

Allyson Kloster is a senior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]