How much did Chicago’s loss hurt Wisconsin?


Here’s one slant I haven’t heard on the Olympics story: Would Chicago’s bid have had a better chance if the U.S. had sent a Sconnie instead of a FIB  to Copenhagen? Seriously, I think it deserves attention, because the way it sounds, the Sconnies are just as mad about the loss as our neighbors to the South.

In an article for Biztimes titled “Chicago’s loss is America’s loss,” Steve Jagler argues the president should never have wagered his reputation on the Olympic bid.

Nevertheless, unlike other critics of the president’s decision, Jagler argues that the bid was actually worth his time, but that because he acted, the loss was that much more painful. He emphasizes the importance by listing a number of community leaders in Milwaukee who voiced enthusiasm for the economic opportunities the games could have brought the surrounding area, including major infrastructure improvements, such as high-speed rail. Scott Walker was especially pumped because the head of the Chicago Olympic effort was a native of Wauwatosa.

Yes, it hurts. What’s especially distressing is how big a role the games could have played in pushing the anti-mass transit curmudgeons to accept a nominal tax increase (if that) for an extremely worthwhile investment in the future. It’s likely that the feds will approve money for high-speed rail, but the Olympic games would have abruptly replaced confidence in an eventual project with certainty in a regional and even national priority.

However, Jagler, like many others who are pushing this meme, doesn’t explain why Obama’s trip to Europe hurt America. Sure the talk radio hosts loved the story, and plenty of partisans will find eagerly jump on the story as a reason to criticize the president, but I’m relatively confident the vast majority of Americans saw what I saw: we tried, but Brazil is sexier than Chicago.

The decision wasn’t a stinging rebuke to Chicago – it was just as likely a ringing endorsement of Rio. Would you have voted for Chi-town if you were a delegate from Finland? There are plenty of practical considerations that go into planning the Olympics – but all the nominees satisfied basic concerns about space, infrastructure etc. Once that’s determined, it comes down to a vote of a bunch of old guys, voting with their gut.

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2 Responses to “How much did Chicago’s loss hurt Wisconsin?”

  1. Paul Axel Says:

    While I won’t go into my strong feelings on the 2016 decision, I believe that the talking heads are putting too much importance on Obama’s decision to go to the IOC meeting.

    If no one else noticed, every bid representative party had a head of state or head of government. Brazil sent its president, Japan sent its prime minister, Spain sent both its prime minister and King Juan Carlos (himself an Olympian). No matter what Americans think of the Olympics, they are still a major international deal, and if your country has a city up for bid, you send your head of government/head of state.

    Will Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama face the same amount of criticism that President Obama is catching for the IOC decision? Japan is also being rocked by the economy, and Hatoyama is from Tokyo, the bid city.

    So, Chicago lost its bid. It’s not Obama’s fault. It was simply a matter of politics and a stronger appeal by Rio de Janiero. The IOC still owes Chicago for 1904, however.

  2. Jim Rowen Says:

    And if Obama hadn’t gone, and Chicago had lost, he’d have been blamed, too.

    No win either way, as it apparently was in the bag for Rio, thanks in no small measure to IOC anger at the USOC for past sins, real or imagined.

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