U.S. Olympic Panel Backs Chicago for 2016 Games The United States Olympic committee has chosen Chicago as the American city it will support as host for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Reaction in the Windy City is jubilant, for the most part.
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U.S. Olympic Panel Backs Chicago for 2016 Games

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U.S. Olympic Panel Backs Chicago for 2016 Games

U.S. Olympic Panel Backs Chicago for 2016 Games

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

The United States Olympic Committee has selected Chicago to be its nominee to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2016. The Windy City beat out Los Angeles for the American nomination and now must square off against several international cities for the right to host the games.

From Chicago, Ammad Omar reports.

AMMAD OMAR: Dozens of former Olympians from the Chicago area gathered at a downtown ESPN Zone restaurant on Saturday to see if the United States Olympic Committee would nominate Chicago to host the 26-team Summer Games. And when USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth took the mic at a press conference in Washington, D.C., the restaurant fell silent.

Mr. PETER UEBERROTH (Chairman, United States Olympic Committee): The United States (unintelligible) city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games is Chicago.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

OMAR: It was several minutes before the cheering died down, but the former athletes here were still ecstatic about the decision. Chicago resident Rick Woolhunter(ph) is a former Olympian and once held the 1,000-meter track world record.

Mr. RICK WOOLHUNTER (Former Olympian; World Track Record Holder): It's a great thing. Chicago is going to have a chance to (Unintelligible) the Games for 26 teams. It'd be a great thing for Chicago people, for the city itself and in the whole United States and in addition to the whole Olympic movement.

OMAR: After the announcement, I went to sprawling Washington Park on Chicago's south side. This 138-year-old park is where officials want to build Chicago's Olympic stadium. There's a softball game going on roughly where the stadium would go up.

(Soundbite of softball players practicing)

OMAR: One of the players, Eddie Miles(ph), tells me their league's been playing here for over 30 years, and the thought of losing his favorite park is a little bit troubling.

Mr. EDDIE MILES(ph) (Resident, Chicago; Softball Player): And the fact that, you know, this is our - one thing that all of us look forward to going. And we got people all over the city that comes out here to play ball on Sundays and during the week. So it's sad that we might potentially lose our park and have to figure out where to play, because this is one of the biggest parks. We got a lot of diamonds and we get a lot of competition going on out here.

OMAR: Still, Miles and everyone else playing here agree the games would be good for Chicago. Team mate, Eric Burgess(ph)…

Mr. ERIC BURGESS(ph) (Resident, Chicago; Softball Player): It would generate jobs for the community, so it'd be nice. That's, you know, so I'm with it.

OMAR: Along with the stadium, Chicago is proposing a $1.1 billion-Olympic housing complex along the lakefront and expects most events to be held within walking distance of the facility. The city has already raised millions of dollars in private funding to back the games, something crucial to landing the event. Chicago must now beat out international cities like Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Prague and Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee will select the winning city in October 2009.

For NPR News, I'm Ammad Omar in Chicago.

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