IOC 2016 decision looms

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With a few days remaining before the 2016 Olympic Games Host City is announced on Friday 2 October in Copenhagen (around 1730 British Summer Time), MEI's editorial director, Rachael Church–Sanders takes a final look at the contenders.

The IOC Evaluation Report of the 2016 Olympic Bid Cities released at the beginning of September 2009 revealed what most observers had already concluded–that it is an extremely hard race to call and the winner may be the city that has been the best at lobbying. RioThe host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games is likely to be the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. That is certainly the feeling on the streets of South America, and with recent bursts of sugar daddy funding, no doubt to assuage fears over expensive infrastructure costs, and the playing of the almost obligatory 'green' card to please the environmental lobby at the eleventh hour, certainly there is more reason now to feel bullish about the Rio bid than ever before. It is no secret that proven financial security is high on the IOC selection agenda, which is why Rio will be thankful for Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista's kind donation of R13m (around $6. 8m), adding to the R10m he has already bankrolled. Nice. Meanwhile, the ultimate in recycling will take place if the Games go to 2014 FIFA World Cup Final host city Rio, with one of the venues, Barra da Tijuca, being turned into a waste water management centre that will reportedly benefit around 10, 000 people. Barra da Tijuca is the proposed venue for competitions in 19 Olympic sports and 13 Paralympic sports, as well as the site of the Olympic Village, the International Broadcast Centre and the Main Press Centre. Perhaps Rio's greatest stroke of genius however was its bid team's compelling presentation to the IOC in June that was designed to tug well and truly at the governing body's emotional heartstrings. By displaying a huge map showing where all the Olympics have been held, with dots placed strategically in Europe, Asia and North America and the entire South American continent left blank, it would be a brave person who rules out the Brazilian city soon filling the gap. MadridIf the 2016 Games were to be awarded on the merits of which city had the jolliest campaign, then Madrid would surely win. In its latest push for IOC favour, Madrid says it is committed to delivering a 'Happy Green Games' in 2016 and has worked with experienced stakeholders to ensure that all plans meet with the highest environmental standards. With a touch of the 'Factor 30', rather than the 'X Factor' about its bid, the city is hoping that its status as 'sunniest candidate' will increase its chances of success. Alas, the fact that there have never been back–to–back Summer Games in the same continent is still a major stumbling block unless Madrid can pull something a bit more spectacular out of the bag than glorious weather forecasts and the mandatory environmental promises. That said, Madrid must surely win points for putting legacy at the heart of its bid and having lots of lovely pre–existing infrastructure. The city will also have learned invaluable lessons from the experiences of its two previous failed bids. The softly, softly approach that Madrid has been following may end up being its catchy–Olympic–monkey masterstroke. Meanwhile, Spain's King Juan Carlos has announced he will go to Copenhagen to support Madrid's last minute bid preparations in October. With the David Beckham factor being acknowledged as a positive in London 2012's final push for glory, Spain's capital city might be savvy to buy a first class ticket for Cristiano Ronaldo too. Just a thought. ChicagoWith the IOC's decision on which city will host the 2016 Olympic Games being only a matter of days away at the time of writing, Chicago was still favourite with bookmakers at least to secure the coveted event. The Windy City, home of the Cubs and the White Sox, is seeking to take the Summer Games back to the US for the first time since 1996 in Atlanta and is promising a compact Games with 85% of competition taking place within an 8 km radius – an area to be known as the Olympic Ring. Although the bid could get a decisive boost if President Barack Obama travels to Copenhagen for the vote (and that is still an 'if'–at the time of writing it looked like the First Lady would be attending instead), the positive influence of the former Chicago Senator may be wiped out by several elements that insiders claim may prove to be "too much hassle" for the IOC to deal with. For starters, the IOC is reportedly upset about the United States Olympic Committee's (USOC) early July announcement of its Olympic television network launch with Comcast, despite the IOC's advice to wait until outstanding contractual issues between itself and the USOC were resolved. The channel will now be put on hold. And as far as finances go, although Chicago's Mayor (Richard M Daley) has reportedly agreed to sign a contract bearing full financial responsibility should Chicago host the 2016 Games–marking a complete u–turn on earlier plans to privately fund the Games – an independent review of the numbers behind the bid has now been published. If those numbers fail to stack up under the renewed scrutiny, it could be curtains for Chicago. TokyoGiant green robots, enormous paper lanterns and iPhone Applications have all been used in recent months to bolster Tokyo's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. As far as the bid team's marketing and PR budget has gone, no expense has been spared to promote the transformation that the city is undergoing within its 10–year 'Tokyo Big Change' that will be completed in 2016 in time for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Tokyo certainly continues to sing its own praises well through a range of gadgetry and gimmickry, but is Japan's capital city barking up the wrong (albeit newly planted) tree when it comes to appealing to the IOC voters? On paper, the Tokyo bid stacks up incredibly well and ticks the full gamut of boxes. It is securely–funded, there is evidence of great public support (including from the popular youth element), an Olympics–hungry time–friendly massive television audience is primed and at the ready, robust legacy planning is firmly in place, and Tokyo is offering an environmentally–friendly Games that would be even more compact, or indeed 'Bonsai', than Chicago's. Some might say that Tokyo's bid almost seems a bit too good to be true. Perhaps even a bit excessive at this time of global economic downturn? If the IOC voters agree, unfortunately therein could lie Tokyo's downfall. Depending on how cleverly rival Rio plays the 'rich' versus 'poor' and 'profligate' versus 'underprivileged' trump card in October, Tokyo may simply find it is outclassed by the underdog. Tokyo may find itself having to look towards the 2020 Games as suitable compensation instead.

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