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There was always a troubling sense -- during the long lead-up to the devastating International Olympic Committee vote last Friday -- that the Chicago 2016 Committee was trying to eke out a victory in the competition as cheaply as possible. Little money was spent on campaigns to win over Chicago's local populace to the idea of hosting the Olympics until it was too late to do much good, and even those last-ditch efforts seemed low-budget and unconvincing.

But as lacking in lavishness and compelling thematics as most of Chicago 2016's efforts were in selling Chicagoans and the IOC on Chicago as a host Olympic city, the 2016 Committee, sources say, did manage to open very wide their pockets for that last disappointing video that was a central part of last Friday's final pitch to the IOC. One source pegged the cost of the underwhelming, heavily-tweaked video at well in excess of a cool $1 million -- an astounding sum given how little the video helped further Chicago's bid.

The decision to feature in the video the youth of Chicago and their "together we can" mantra may have seemed a clever touch to some within the Chicago 2016 crowd. But the fact is the youth angle already had been overused in the Chicago pitch. Yes, young people are at the center of the Olympics, but that's no reason to focus on them to the point of obsession.

In any event, it's too late to do anything about the lackluster video or the money spent on it. But if there's ever to be another Olympic pitch from Chicago, we hope whoever is calling the shots next time will remember it's important to think big. The Olympics demand nothing less.

Call it dicey scheduling. But the Executives' Club of Chicago apparently believes it will have something to celebrate on Oct. 6, because it has invited Pat Ryan, chairman and CEO of the Chicago 2016 Olympic organizing committee, to be guest speaker at a Joint Committee breakfast on that day.

Ryan's topic, per the invitation, will be "Chicago's Bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games." Ryan's speech at the Sheraton Chicago will come just four days after the International Olympic Committee selects the 2016 Summer Olympics host city in Copenhagen on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Depending on how that vote goes, of course, Ryan could be talking to the Executives' Club about what went wrong. Or he could be discussing a successful bid strategy. Either way, it should prove an interesting breakfast presentation.

olympics[1].jpgWith Chicago aldermen set to vote Wednesday on whether Mayor Richard M. Daley can sign a standard host-city agreement with the International Olympic Committee, the Chicago 2016 organizing committee is engaged in a last-minute, last-ditch effort to pump up enthusiasm for the Chicago bid among local government officials and the populace via a print and radio ad campaign. If Daley signs the host city contract, Chicago would be obligated to cover the costs of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, as well as any operating losses.

Two different, copy-heavy full page ads appeared in both Chicago dailies Tuesday, while radio spots featuring the mayors of Atlanta and Los Angeles, also were running to boost support for the city's Olympic bid. One of the print ads was an open letter from Martin Luther King III in which he explains why hosting the Olympics would be good for Chicago. King was involved with the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

A second print ad offered more factual details about how the Olympics would benefit Chicago and Illinois, including $22 billion in economic impact and a number of new sports facilities that would remain after the Games.

A Chicago 2016 spokesman said the print ads, developed in-house, would appear only once, though the radio spots would continue to run.

The push to rally public backing for Chicago's Olympic bid comes amid growing evidence that Chicagoans' support has waned in recent months, and that Rio de Janeiro's bid could be gaining favor with International Olympic Committee, who will select the 2016 host city on Oct. 2, in Copenhagen. In addition to Rio, Chicago is competing with Madrid and Tokyo for the 2016 Games.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the International Olympic Committee category.

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