Local Event Sports Association

Why Chicago Shouldn’t Host The 2016 Oympic Games

By Charles Johnson On June - 19 - 2009

I was born and raised in Chicago and now live in a suburb about 25 miles away, so I know I will get some grief over this, but the truth hurts.

My first issue is, do we still need to have Olympic games? I mean really its only about three competing countries: USA, Russia and China. They lead the medal counts, have the most athletes, and take the games most seriously. So seriously that there has been widespread cheating and even changed the rules to allow pro athletes.

Now where’s the Olympic tradition in that? That’s more like a corporate win at any costs theme and that’s what the Olympics have become.

No host city has even broken even financially on the Olympics since Los Angeles in 1984. I remember those games; I was eight years old that summer. It was a big deal because the previous summer games in the USSR in 1980, the USA boycotted. Is that carrying the Olympic torch as we have been taught?

Of course the USSR boycotted us right back but still, isn’t it about harmony and getting along, and all that good stuff?

Now its about doing whatever it takes to get the games to your town. Salt Lake City bought off judges for the 2002 Winter Games, and how many times does the US need to host the games.

In my lifetime, we had the 1980 Winter Games (Lake Placid), 1984 Summer Games (Los Angeles), 1996 Summer Games (Atlanta), and 2002 Winter Games (Salt Lake City). Isn’t that enough USA dominance?

South America has never hosted any games, Africa has never hosted any games, and the Middle East has never hosted any games. I thought Dubai might be a good candidate for having summer games (they sure have the money), but I know that the area is not that stable.

But in this day and age, is anywhere really stable? Is any place really safe? This simply makes the cost of security at the games that much more expensive.

The 2004 Summer Games in Athens nearly bankrupted the city, and now the remnants of the games stand in ruins. The wonderful architecture from these past games in Beijing stands empty and is not being used.

Already London has gone way over budget for their 2012 Summer Games, and it will be interesting to see how Vancouver handles its Winter Games next year. Who knows what 2014 will bring In Sochi, Russia, or if we will even show up.

Things have changed so much in the world in the last 10 years. We have that global society of finance, economy, and even sports so do we need to have this elaborate production every two years to do what? Show off the superpowers, fake some world unity so that we can hear our national anthem played at every event?

I think that day has passed.

I truly think that day has passed in the USA and my hometown simply isn’t up to the task to have the games. Not only is it a drain on the economy, but on every resource in that area.

People say that Rio De Janiero is a violent city, well Chicago has its moments (more like every night). In the past year alone, over 30 public school students were shot and killed (and that many were killed the year prior as well). The inner city can be as violent as anywhere in the Middle East, and the Chicago Police Department, which do as good a job as possible, are simply stretched too thin.

The infrastructure is crumbling. While the skyline is beautiful and I love it to death (and loved seeing it everyday when I was a student at DePaul University), look down from the skyscrapers; the streets have potholes, the bridges have rust, and the expressways are worn down.

Speaking of the expressways, traffic can be a nightmare during rush hour and the mass transit system is old, neglected, and desperately needs to be upgraded.

None of this comes cheap, and the mayor (The Honorable Richard M. Daley) has sold some viable parts of the city. The parking meters have been sold for one billion dollars for a 99 year lease, and the expressway that joins the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan (The Skyway) has also had its rights sold. The city has made profits on these deals, but still city workers are having to take non-paid days off.

There is a state wide budget crunch. The previous governor (Rod R. Blagogevich) ran a corrupt administration for six years. Who knows how much money was lifted from state coffers, and all that now remains is a lot of debt and a state that needs to get on its feet financially. The Olympics is not the key.

The city’s Olympic bid is faulty. It is built on the unstable foundation of private donations and development, which in this economy is as solid as sand. The USA (unlike other countries) does not guarantee anything if the budget goes over. This puts any U.S. bid at a severe financial disadvantage.

Just this week Mayor Daley put the $500 million guarantee on the tax payers of the region, although months earlier he promised that the taxpayers would not be responsible for a dime. He has made it clear that he will do anything to get these games.

As I said before, the Olympics are not a win-at-any-cost event. Unfortunately, that’s what they have become.

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