IOC calls Chicago's Games bid 'strong'

Tue. April 7, 2009 12:00 AM by Chicago Breaking News

Chicago, IL - In their only public comments about Chicago's Olympic bid, members of the international evaluation commission were upbeat and spoke glowingly of the city's plans to host the 2016 Summer Games.

However, all the bids are expected to be strong bids, said Nawal El Moutawakel, chairwoman of the IOC's evaluation commission, a 13-member group who concluded their visit to Chicago today.

The commission leaves with "a very strong impression that the bid is a strong bid," said Moutawakel, a former Olympian athlete from Morocco. "But in the end, there is only one winner."

The team now heads to Tokyo, and then the other two finalists, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro, before the IOC picks a winner on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

Addressing questions about Chicago's lack of a blanket guarantee to cover the costs of the Games, IOC official Gilbert Felli said all of the bid cities are facing economic difficulties in the current recession.

"We all are facing the same issues in the world today," Felli said. "We all know we live in a world of risk."

And part of the analysis the commission will undertake is to "evaluate risk" in comparing Chicago's financial guarantees against those of the other cities, which all have government guarantees the costs will be covered.

Both Moutawakel and Felli noted they were impressed by the support of "business heavyweights" from Chicago's corporate community, with whom the commission met Monday.

Corporate sponsorships make up a significant piece of the Olympic revenue pie. Chicago officials continue to hope their bid will be aided by the fact that revenue from Games held in the U.S. exceeds that of other nations.

Commenting on the kind words from the commission, Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan said the bid team has always felt the natural setting of the city gave Chicago an advantage. But, he added, the team has "no delusions" about the tough competition.

Ryan also joked the commission "didn't like the weather Sunday afternoon," when cold, wind and rain burdened the venue tour.

When asked whether visible public support was lacking, Mayor Richard Daley said that when he arrived at the White Sox home opener today, he was bombarded with questions and comments from Sox fans asking "did we win" the bid?

Written by: David Heinzmann

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