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August 2009



While Chicago's bid team is busy briefing Aldermen about financial guarantees Tokyo's team is concentrating on far more important matters: What to wear. 

Tokyo 2016 reported today that it has signed a deal with Japanese fashionista Masaki Matsushima to design the uniform its bid leaders will wear during their final presentation to International Olympic Committee members in Copenhagen October 2nd.  Matsushima previously designed garb for Bjork and Madonna.  Somehow I can't picture Mayor Daley stuffing himself into Matsushima's outfits:


IOC President on 2016 Competition

Ask a politician running for office his or her priorities and you'll get an insightful answer like this: "I'm for education and against crime."  The folks who run the International Olympic Committee are equally adept at giving non-answer answers.  Nonetheless, any time IOC President Jacques Rogge comments on the 2016 race it's worth posting.  The excellent Olympic newsletter Around the Rings (www.aroundtherings.com) had an exclusive interview in Berlin last week where they asked President Rogge to share his impressions of Rio, Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago.  Here's his response:

"Every one appeals according to its own qualities. But definitely the pitch of Rio is to say we can organize very good Games but the Games never came to South America. For me, most important is I am reassured that they could organize a very good bid. Chicago are saying ‘we represent the bid of America and you can trust America… it’s going to be very good Games’. The bid with obviously most of the money today is Tokyo, so moneywise there is no question mark. It is technically the most compact bid. And Madrid, you have the certainty that nothing is virtual and everything has been built. You have four different bids and my conclusion is, the good thing for the IOC, the IOC will be the winner. Take any bid and it will be able to have very good Games."


Back track on Olympic TV helps Chicago

The US Olympic Committee has done an about face on an issue that was undermining support for Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Games.  Bowing to pressure and anger by many members of the International Olympic Committee, USOC Chairman Larry Probst announced in Berlin today that plans to launch an Olympic-themed television channel will be delayed indefinitely.


“The USOC has decided to delay further development of the Network until we have resolved all issues of concern to the IOC,” Probst said in a statement following a meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge. 


The USOC announced plans for the television channel earlier this summer with little prior consultation with the IOC.   The announcement was greeted with concern by many IOC members who worried  an Olympic television channel in the United States would devalue the broadcast rights for the winter and summer Games.  It was also seen as a sign of arrogance and disrespect by the US Olympic Committee for their international partners.  Money maters have long complicated the IOC/USOC relationship and sparked resentment toward the United States.


“We applaud Larry Probst and the USOC for making a strong statement of partnership by stating that the USOC would secure the full support and cooperation of the IOC before moving forward,” Chicago 2016 Chairman Pat Ryan said. “It is important not only for the USOC and IOC relationship, but also for the USOC’s role within the Olympic movement.”


Behind-the-scenes, Chicago’s bid team has been working to shore up relations with IOC members and reassure them Chicago would be a respectful partner should they award Chicago the Games.


Olympic Vote gets Presidential Treatment, maybe

The President of Brazil will be there.  So will the King of Spain and Japan's Crown Prince.  But President Barack Obama has still not publicly committed to attend the International Olympic Committee's host city vote in October. This morning a White House spokesperson would only echo the administration's previous comments that no decision has been made on whether Obama will attend.

Chicago is the only city competing to host the 2016 Games that has not announced who will lead its lobbying effort in the days leading up to the decision in Copenhagen.  

This morning President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil became the latest head of state to confirm that he plans to personally lobby IOC members in Copenhagen in the days leading up to the 2016 decision. President Obama's coyness is believed to have more to due with security considerations than a lack of enthusiasm for the bid of his hometown; however a Presidential no-show would be devastating to Chicago's Olympic bid.  

Earlier this week White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who is heading-up the adminstration's Olympic efforts, continued to be non-committal.  “Telecasting our last, home-stretch strategy doesn’t seem to be prudent,” Jarrett told Bloomberg. “We want to win. We’re not interested in coming in second, third or fourth.”  However, Jarrett went on to say the President's time is valuable and “he has an awful lot on his plate."  An early October trip to Copenhagen would occur at the same time Obama needs to be back at home working with Congress to advance his domestic agenda.

Lobbying by heads of state became fashionable in recent years when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin personally pressed some IOC flesh in the hours leading up winning votes for London and Sochi respectively.  

Chicago's bid team is aggressively working behind-the-scenes to line-up other hometown heroes to join Obama in Copenhagen or blunt the impact should he be unable to attend.  Mayor Richard Daley has said his "dream team" promoting Chicago in Copenhagen would include Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan.  

Chicago is competing with Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid for the right to host the 2016 Summer Games. The winner will be announced on October 2