Valerie Jarrett, one of the president’s senior advisers told major media outlets this morning that President Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. He will leave this Thursday and join his wife Michelle in Copenhagen where they, along with a packed contingent from Chicago’s bid committee and the world of celebrity, will lobby the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the international event.
The IOC will decide the host city on Friday from among the final contenders, Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.
What’s wrong with this picture? I see two major problems.
First, let me say that there is no bigger supporter of the Olympic movement than me. Before I became a realtor in Covington, I was a sports marketing consultant working primarily for worldwide corporate sponsors of the Olympic Movement for over 15 years. I developed and implemented marketing programs to help sponsors leverage their sponsorships in Olympic Summer and Winter Games, regional competitions such as the Asian Games, and local trial competitions for National Olympic Committees in countries throughout the world. I worked on Games and competitions in Europe, Asia, India, Australia and the U.S. To me, there is no greater movement, nor one that elicits more national pride, emotion, history, or personal satisfaction than the Olympics.
My first issue with Obama traveling to Denmark is that the U.S. taxpayers will be springing for yet another presidential boondoggle and photo-op. Not only is Obama going, but he is “meeting” Michelle there, and taking along Jarrett, Education Secretary Anne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, according to the AP.
And since Obama is going, it’s a good bet that taxpayers will also be liable for a good portion, if not all, of the Chicago contingent’s costs. The Chicago group will include the city’s bid committee members, Obama crony Mayor Richard Daley, Ophra Winfrey, and 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists, including Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin.
There is no reason for the US President to lobby for the Games being held in the United States. President George H.W. Bush did not make an appearance when Atlanta won the bid in 1989, nor has any other American president ever done so. Obama will be the first U.S. president to actually appeal in person to the IOC for an Olympic event. And in fact, it is likely that the IOC’s mind is already made up as to who will be the winning city. Although no one will know until this Friday, IOC officials have been visiting potential cities, asking questions and receiving input from potential hosts for the past seven years.
But even more than Obama needlessly spending taxpayer money for this useless boondoggle, I’m concerned that Chicago even has a chance to win the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.
If you thought there were improprieties in winning the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games, which came close to destroying the Olympic movement, can you imagine the graft, corruption and quid pro quo that will be going on if Chicago is the chosen city? Corruption and questionable dealings already exist throughout the city and state administrations, and will only be amplified by the lust after the billions of dollars of economic impact an Olympic event can bring to a city. I can only hope that IOC members remember and have learned from the past what an ill-advised decision Chicago would be.
There’s nothing I would rather see than the Olympic Games back on U.S. soil. But not at this time… and NOT in Chicago!
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