WASHINGTON--Chicago won approval over Los Angeles Saturday from the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors to be the U.S. entry to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games. Now Chicago must fashion its own foreign policy to woo the international Olympic community to actually land the events a test of diplomacy and precinct-style politics.
Mayor Daley jumped up from his seat when Chicago was named the winner over Los Angeles in a process that started one year ago with five cities. In a sportsman-like move, Daley reached across the aisle to shake the hands of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when Chicago's name was called..
The actual announcement was done with a flourish worth of the Academy Awards. None of the members of he United States Olympics Committee board knew the winner when the news conference started. The winner was known only to the accounting firm countng the ballots, Grant Thornton. LLD. It seemed eight minutes of torture between the time the news conference started and the envelope with a white piece of paper with the name of the winner was torn open by United States Olympic Committee board chairman Peter Ueberroth.
"I was very, very nervous," Daley said.
Villaraigosa lavished praise on Daley. “I said to everyone from the very beginning, Never, ever count Richie Daley out. This is a man who has no peer in American cities. He is without question a great mayor. And we are very fortunate to have us leading the American bid.’’
Ueberroth said it was a "very tough decision" and if he had the power he would "merge the cities."
Chicago was chosen in a "close vote," Ueberroth said. "Midwestern culture" helped, said Ueberroth, who was born in Evanston on Sept. 2, 1937. He also lived for periods in Wilmette and briefing attended New Trier High School. Ueberroth would not disclose the vote--it was not a "landslide," he said and bolstering Chicago's bid was its inclusion of the Paralympic games as an equal partner--not giving the paralympics "second place" status.
"This is an opportunity to really educate all of America and all of the world" of the importance of the Olympic movement, Daley said at the news conference.
Chicago must win at least 60 votes in October, 2009 from the 118-member International Olympic Committee to be award the games. Ueberroth urged that Americans, to be more competitive, "brush up on foreign languages." He said later the IOC is "Euro-centric," with some European nations such as Switzerland holding five votes. By the time 2009 balloting comes, the U.S. will have only two votes.
"It's just beginning. It's a long road," said Patrick Ryan. "...2016 here we come."
"And I want to thank the Chicago press...we have many new best friends in the press," Ryan said.