IOC Deals Chicago Olympic Shock

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It's not a huge surprise that Rio de Janiero won the 2016 Summer Olympics. Rio made a strong case in arguing that the games had never been to South America. But for the International Olympic Committee to cut Chicago in the first round of voting? That was a shocker.

JACKI LYDEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

It's not a huge surprise that Rio de Janeiro won the 2016 Summer Olympics. Rio made a strong case in arguing that the games have never been held in South America. But for the International Olympic Committee to cut Chicago in the first round of voting, that was a shocker.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports from Copenhagen, the IOC works in mysterious ways.

CHERYL CORLEY: Chicago went all out in its efforts to win the 2016 Olympics but all it got was a cold shoulder, receiving only 18 of 94 votes. Chicago was dumped (unintelligible) the voting process after the first round.

Ed Hula is with AroundTheRings.com.

Mr. ED HULA (Editor/Founder, AroundTheRings.com): You would think that the president of the United States and the first lady, both speaking to the IOC session, would carry enough weight to put Chicago at least into a later round, if they were going to be eliminated at all.

CORLEY: So what happened? The CEO of U.S. Track and Field, Doug Logan, says an IOC vote is an easy way for countries to express resentment towards a superpower, without suffering any consequences. There's also been some talk here about IOC members being miffed that President Obama only spent a few hours here.

Anita DeFrantz, an IOC member from the U.S., says first-round votes can often be risky.

Ms. ANITA DEFRANTZ (Chairperson, Women and Sport Commission, IOC): 'Cause sometimes people decide, oh, let's do this for this city so they don't have to go out first.

CORLEY: Of course there are all sorts of considerations why the IOC votes a certain way. The first priority typically is the athletes. The IOC wants to know how they will be treated, what the Olympic venues will look like, and how the Olympic movement will be served.

But there's also some behind the scenes politicking. Former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is 89 years old, delivered an emotional appeal that got Madrid further than many expected.

Ms. DEFRANTZ: In many ways this is a set game. I would say maybe at least 70 percent of the members of the IOC still were elected by - maybe more than that - under President Samaranch.

CORLEY: After Samaranch's appeal, Madrid was the highest vote-getter in the first round and Chicago was knocked out of contention.

Early dismissal isn't new to the U.S. New York suffered the same fate when it sought to host the 2012 games. But this is worse.

Robert Livingstone with GamesBid.com says Chicago's results, although disappointing, could have simply played out as it was meant to.

Mr. ROBERT LIVINGSTONE (Creator/Producer, GamesBid.com): The race between Chicago and Rio was in the minds of the media. They portrayed that race but nobody took a poll of IOC members, and they're the ones who ultimately decide.

CORLEY: Chicago officials say they have no regrets about going after the 2016 games, but the city is unlikely to bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Copenhagen.

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