IOC makes history – and humiliates Obama – as Rio de Janeiro is awarded 2016 Olympics

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IOC makes history – and humiliates Obama – as Rio de Janeiro is awarded 2016 Olympics

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 7:09 PM on 02nd October 2009

Rio de Janeiro is to host the first Olympic Games in South America.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge made the announcement in Copenhagen today, to the bitter humiliation of Barack Obama.

The U.S. president was embarrassed on the world stage after the IOC rejected his very personal bid for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held at his home town of Chicago.

Rio loves you: People hold up a banner with an image of Christ the Redeemer as they gather on Copacabana beach in Rio to wait for the announcement by IOC members in Copenhagen of the host city for the 2016 Olympics

People hold up a banner with an image of Christ the Redeemer as they gather on Copacabana beach in Rio to wait for the announcement by IOC members in Copenhagen of the host city for the 2016 Olympics

Rio fans on the famous Copacabana beach celebrate today as their city makes it through to the final round of voting - just minutes before being crowned the host city of the 2016 Olympiad

Rio fans on the famous Copacabana beach celebrate today as their city makes it through to the final round of voting – just minutes before being crowned the host city of the 2016 Olympiad

Despite the president’s unprecedented appeal, from late afternoon on the momentum had all been with Rio.

Tokyo was also eliminated in the first round, leaving just the Brazilian capital and the Spanish city of Madrid in the running.

And after an inspirational speech from Brazilian president Lula Inacio de Silva today, some commentators were left in no doubt.

South America is the only continent that has never hosted the Games – which means that it was the only option of the four currently on the table that gives IOC chiefs the chance to make history.

A 50,000-strong crowd celebrates as Rio de Janeiro wins the nomination

A 50,000-strong crowd celebrates as Rio de Janeiro wins the nomination

America stunned: Two women comfort each other at a gathering in downtown Chicago this afternoon after the city's bid to host the 2016 Olympics was rejected

America stunned: Two women comfort each other at a gathering in downtown Chicago this afternoon after the city’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics was rejected

 

Enlarge Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is congratulated as the result is announced

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is congratulated as the result is announced

‘I honestly think it is Brazil’s turn,’ Mr de Silva told the IOC Committee earlier today.

‘It is South America’s bid. This is a continent that has never held the Games.

It is time to address this imbalance. It is time to light the Olympic cauldron in a tropical country.’

‘When you push the button today, you have the chance to inspire a new continent, make Olympic history,’ Carlos Nuzman, Rio bid chief executive and an IOC member, said.

‘Vote Rio, and we offer a gateway to 180million passionate young people in South America.’

Fifa chief executive Sepp  Blatter said the speech ‘got under my skin’.

The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Kelso blogged: ‘The momentum is with Rio… starting to get a sneaky feeling for Brazil, though I would like to make it clear that is not a prediction.’

lula

North vs South: Brazilian President Lula Inacio de Silva and U.S. President Barack Obama make their respective bids to the IOC in Copenhagen today

The moment the Rio de Janiero delegation hears the results of their successful bid

The moment the Rio de Janiero delegation hears the results of their successful bid

Team Brazil: Members of the Rio delegation celebrate the triumph

Team Brazil: Members of the Rio delegation celebrate the triumph

Brazil, the economic powerhouse of South America, is the only one of the world’s ten most powerful nations to have never staged the games.

Just as the Beijing Olympics of 2008 was seen as marking China’s revival as an world power, Rio 2016 would be seen as a stamp of approval on the South American giant’s coming of age.

This will be the first time the Games are held in South America. The Maracana stadium will host football

This will be the first time the Games are held in South America. The Maracana stadium will host football

Rio loves you: Copacabana beach as the news was announced

Rio loves you: Copacabana beach as the news was announced

After decades of underachievement, Latin America’s largest country has enjoyed economic stability and growth in recent years, finally making good on the immense promise of its abundant natural resources and vibrant democracy.

Madrid has never been able to shake off the major problem of trying to persuade 106 IOC members to stay in Europe, despite the London 2012 Games and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, being on the same continent.

The Spanish city has been trying to style itself as the ‘Hispanic bid’, rather than European, but has had limited success.

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Barack Obama and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama during the Chicago 2016 bid presentation

The crowd goes wild - with confetti and balloon fights - as they hear their city has won the Olympic bid

The crowd goes wild – with confetti and balloon fights – as they hear their city has won the Olympic bid

Mr Obama was also passionate in his bid to IOC chiefs, saying the U.S. ‘is ready and eager to assume that sacred trust’.

Critics had already slammed the U.S. President and his wife, fellow Chicagoan Michelle Obama, and talkshow superstar Oprah Winfrey, for putting their political capital behind an enormous campaign to win the Olympics bid.

‘I urge you to choose Chicago,’ Mr Obama told the IOC this morning.

‘And if you do – if we walk this path together – then I promise you this: The city of Chicago and the United States of America will make the world proud,’ the President said.

 

Michelle Obama

Bid: First Lady Michelle Obama and talk show host Oprah Winfrey at the opening ceremony of the 121st IOC in Copenhagen

Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo have been making their cases to the IOC for more than a year, but many IOC members were believed to be undecided about which city they would vote for.

Some said they might not decide until after the cities made their final presentations in Copenhagen.

The President claimed the IOC should choose Chicago for the same reason he picked it 25 years ago – because it’s a great and diverse city.

And he said there is nothing he would like more than to have the games just a few blocks from his own family’s home in Chicago.

Enlarge

Members of the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee present their bid. Athletics legend Jesse Owens is shown on the big screen

 

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Buildings of the skyline of downtown Chicago are lit up to support the city’s 2016 Olympic bid

The President is a former senator for Illinois and carried out community work in Chicago, as well as teaching at the University of Chicago Law School.

Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama’s arrival in Copenhagen helped shift attention more sharply on to Chicago.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said: ‘Any one of these four cities could deliver a great Olympics – this is probably the highest quality contest there has been.

‘It is very close competition and it could all be decided by the final presentations.’

Andy Hunt, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, also offered his congratulations.

Hunt said: ‘It is four years since we won the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games so we know what an exciting and busy time now lies ahead. I am sure that Rio de Janeiro will host a superb Olympic and Paralympic Games for the athletes of the world.

‘We have been lucky enough to be the host National Olympic Committee for Olympic Games three times and we would be happy to share our experience and knowledge with the Brazilian Olympic Committee, any time they need it.’

There is one small grain of comfort for Chicago: it did at least receive more votes than Tokyo, which received the fewest of the 95 votes in the first round.

Tokyo’s campaign suffered the worst report from the IOC’s evaluation commission last month.

Is the City of God Ready?

IOC President Jacques Rogge holds names Rio de Janeiro as the choice for the 2016 summer games

IOC President Jacques Rogge names Rio de Janeiro as the choice for the 2016 summer games

The city known for its golden beaches and overlooked by the statue of Christ the Redeemer remains dogged by a reputation for crime.

And while Brazil is the economic powerhouse of South America, Rio’s cultural and business influence has flowed steadily to financial capital Sao Paulo in recent years.

As part of Rio’s bid, organisers were promising new roads to ease congestion, more progressive security policies to deal with drug violence in its slums, and a clean-up of its polluted lakes and the main bay of Guanabara.

The prospect of Olympics events incorporating Rio’s landmarks were a key selling point in the strongest-ever bid by a South American city for the Games.

A marathon finish in Carnival’s Sambadrome, beach volleyball on Copacabana, rowing under the Christ statue, and football in the Maracana stadium are among the plans.

In a very Brazilian touch, athletes would have their own beach in the western region of Barra da Tijuca.

But while surveys show 85 per cent of Cariocas and 69 per cent of Brazilians support the Games, some are sceptical the benefits would filter down to ordinary people.

Rio’s successful hosting of the Pan-American Games in 2007 left a sour taste for many because of cost overruns and unmet promises such as an expansion of the city’s subway lines.

Organisers are estimating total costs of nearly 29 billion reais ($16billion), but say much of that would be spent anyway as part of plans to upgrade the city’s infrastructure.

‘If Brazil put a good sports program in place for children, I would be in favour. But it’s not the case,’ said Marcos Bueno, a 40-year-old office worker.

‘I think they want the Olympics to build big things and to divert the money like they did with the Pan-Am Games.’

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