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February 22, 2024

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    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
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Spring Housing Guide

After losing bid for the Olympics to Rio, Chicago is given a renewed perspective

Last Friday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It will be the first time the games will be held in South America and the excitement in the city was palpable. Simply from watching footage of Rio de Janeiro residents learning of the honor, I felt a lot of happiness for the people of a city that I have never been to in my life (and probably never will due to a fear of flying), and one to which I do not have a personal connection.

Unfortunately, Rio’s gain was also America’s loss. Chicago was a top contender for the 2016 games and was eliminated by the IOC, along with Tokyo, in the first round, leaving Madrid and Rio to square off for the honor.

Chicago’s bid for the games was put forth with plenty of fanfare: President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey made the trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, in order to persuade the IOC to pick their hometown as the next in a line of American Olympic host cities. The city began campaigning for the games years ago and raised millions of dollars for the bid through private donations.

It is no doubt sad that Chicago lost the bid. It’s a wonderful city, and hosting the games would have been a great boost to the pride of a city (and state) plagued with crime, corruption and economic woes. However, it’s also important to celebrate the fact that a unique country and continent will have the honor of hosting the games in 2016 and recognize that Chicago will not have to undergo such an exhaustive process of preparing their city for the games.

One of the most prevalent questions Chicagoans had regarding the games was, ‘How can the city afford to host such a massive event?’ While the money may have come from mostly private donations, time and energy that could be devoted to cleaning up the streets of the city or improving transportation and public schools would have still been required by city officials.

There is no way that the games could be pulled off without the help of Chicago Police and other emergency crews. While the games would be seven years from now, and the current situation in the city may change – there is a trend of murders and violent crime – at the moment, the city is facing numerous challenges with its own citizens. Would it be able to deal with the strain on the infrastructure and public services? We won’t know, but now Chicago can move on from the possibility of hosting the Olympics to fixing its issues.

The IOC’s decision should not be viewed as anti-American any more than it should be viewed as anti-Japan or anti-Spain for not hosting the games in those countries. Only one city could win the title, and Rio suffers from many of the same socio-economic problems as Chicago, so it is wrong to blame the rejection on a problem that many major metropolitan cities face.

The United States has hosted eight Olympic Games since 1904. Comparatively, this will be the first time Brazil has hosted an Olympic game, setting a precedent for the country, as well as the entire continent of South America. While it’s difficult to say whether or not this was Chicago’s last shot at hosting the games or not, it’s likely that an American city will host the games again in due time. Rio should be celebrated for persuading the IOC to take a chance on the continent, using Rio as its representative to the world.

It’s not necessarily a positive that Chicago lost the bid, it’s just that it’s easier to look at the rejection by the IOC in a somewhat positive light. Chicago saving money and hassle by not hosting the Olympics may not outweigh an individual’s disappointment in not being able to see the events in their home city or country, but it’s worth considering.

It is now Rio de Janeiro’s responsibility to host the games in seven years and, hopefully, they will be able to work within their resources to put on a good show. The IOC obviously believes in Rio enough to award them the games and it will be interesting to see how the city prepares for such a historic event.

Respond to Marisha by leaving a comment below or emailing to [email protected]

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