Chicago and Los Angeles Chase Olympic Bid Chicago and Los Angeles are vying to be selected as the U.S. bid to host the 2016 summer Olympics. Both cities have the ability to pull the games off. The question is which city has the will to win the U.S. bid.
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Chicago and Los Angeles Chase Olympic Bid

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Chicago and Los Angeles Chase Olympic Bid

LYNN NEARY, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary.

Time now for sports. The United States Olympic Committee spent two days in Los Angeles this week. Next week they'll visit Chicago. Both cities are vying to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The choice is ultimately up to the International Olympic Committee. They'll vote in October of 2009.

Our own gold medalist, Ron Rapoport, joins us from NPR West. Thanks for being with us, Ron.

RON RAPOPORT: Thank you, Lynn.

NEARY: Now, the Olympic committee is visiting these two competing cities at the end of what I know as sort of an intense lobbying effort. And you have lived in both these cities at one time or another during this lobbying effort. So you've had a front-row seat. Maybe you can tell us what the campaigns have been like.

RAPOPORT: You know, I was writing a column in Chicago when the city first said it might go after the games. And my first reaction, along with much of the city, was that's ridiculous. But the more I thought about it - about the new arenas that have been built and about the way Chicago's really become an international tourist destination, the more - I guess I don't recommend it in the winter necessarily - but the more I began to see that it made a lot of sense.

And you know, Mayor Daley, Richard Daley, who just won his sixth, count them, sixth term as mayor, is never happier than when he's building something. So this is right up his alley. And he's got a lot of civic support behind him. Just Thursday they held a fundraiser and they made about $10 million, which puts their bid so far way over the top in terms of being able to finance it.

So Chicago really has a good chance at this, I think. Los Angeles, of course, has done this before, twice. They've hosted two Olympic games - in '32 and '84, and done a very good job both times. So it's sort of whether the International Olympic Committee would be interested in the old shoe, the city where they've been before and would be comfortable with, or something brand new.

NEARY: Well, you've covered about a half dozen Olympics, including the '84 games in L.A. Is there some formula to have a successful bid?

RAPOPORT: Well, what's interesting about the bids in many ways is how similar they are. Both cities have decided they will handle the Olympic Stadium issue on the cheap. Chicago would build a temporary structure to be taken down after the games, while Los Angeles will surround the Coliseum, which was built for the '32 games, with a sort of steel superstructure that would support luxury boxes, and they would take that down after the games.

What it's going to come down to as the USOC picks a city that they think the International Olympic Committee will be interested in is trying to outguess the International Olympic Committee, whether they will be interested in something new or something old.

NEARY: Does either of the cities have something unique to offer that might tip the balance?

RAPOPORT: Not really, I don't think. Except that Chicago, one of the things they have going for them that's very important, is that the venues would be fairly close. You wouldn't have to do any traveling around. And I think the International Olympic Committee would be interested in that. Whereas Los Angeles's venues are spread out.

There's one more important thing to talk about, though, Lynn, and that's the questions of the International Olympic Committee's choice of which city to pick after the USOC puts one of these bids forward.

NEARY: And what do you think they're going to do? Is there any sense now that it's time for the U.S. again to have...

RAPOPORT: Well, it's a very good question. By rights the U.S. should have a good chance. By 2016, the games will have been held in Australia, China and twice in Europe since the 1996 games in Atlanta. And that should put the U.S. back in the rotation. But I don't know whether you've heard this, Lynn. America's not very popular around the rest of the world these days. And the IOC, whose members come from scores of countries around the world, may not want to send the games to any place in America. They just may want to make a statement.

You're hearing more and more about that. The mere fact that without U.S. television money the Olympics would go belly-up in a hurry may not cut much ice, I'm afraid.

NEARY: Our own Ron Rapoport. Thanks so much for being with us, Ron.

RAPOPORT: Thank you, Lynn.

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