Finalist cities prep to explain bids to special IOC panel



Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley welcomes participants to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit on Monday in Chicago. M. Spencer Green, The Associated Press

By Deanna Bellandi

CHICAGO – Mayor Richard Daley said he would welcome an extra chance to pitch Chicago to the International Olympic Committee before it decides which city will host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Last week, the IOC’s executive board said finalist cities would be able to explain their bids to IOC members at a special meeting a few months before next year’s final vote.

“It’s a good venue for us to make a presentation,” said Daley, who spoke to reporters at a U.S. Olympic Committee media summit on Monday.

Chicago is a likely finalist when the IOC whittles a list of seven bid cities to an undetermined number of contenders in June.

The IOC is giving finalists the special meeting to explain their bids as part of “fine-tuning” of the process, IOC president Jacques Rogge has said.

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    Rules enacted following the Salt Lake City bribery scandal limits IOC members’ contact with bid cities. The special meeting will be held in Switzerland in the spring of 2009. Some IOC members wanted to get more information from bid cities, and bid cities were after more chances to advance their proposals.

    Besides Chicago, other cities seeking the games are Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tokyo; Madrid, Spain; Doha, Qatar; Prague, Czech Republic; and Baku, Azerbaijan.

    It’s after the IOC names the finalists that the competition really gears up, Daley said.

    But he isn’t taking anything for granted, calling it a “tough competition.”

    Daley said the unanswered question is how many cities the IOC will name as finalists – anywhere from three to five.

    USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth said last year he thought Chicago, at the time, was third or fourth in the running for the games. He said then that Chicago needed to sell itself to IOC members.

    Since then, Daley and the city have worked to promote its Olympic bid, including through the successful staging of last year’s world boxing championships. Chicago 2016 chairman Patrick Ryan also was recently in Beijing at an international sports gathering.

    Daley said they’ll know in a couple months how Chicago ranks against the competition.

    “We’ll find out,” he said.

    Asked whether recent protests or talk of boycotts at the upcoming Beijing Summer Games would affect Chicago’s chances, Daley said, “It’s about athletes. It’s not about politicians.”