CHICAGO (CBS) ―
Apr 7, 2009 10:46 pm US/Central
Olympic Inspection Team Wraps Up Chicago Visit
IOC Team Praises Chicago's Vision, Strong Bid
The Olympic inspectors have been on a whirlwind tour of Chicago, and we haven't really heard from them since they arrived late last week. But as CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports on Tuesday afternoon, members of the Olympic evaluation commission shared their thoughts about Chicago for the first time. And their tone was very upbeat.
IOC Chairwoman Nawal El Moutawakel introduced IOC members at the Fairmont Hotel Tuesday afternoon before making an opening statement, and then opening up the floor for questions.
"We have very carefully studied the bid document and have visited the venues. We have been most impressed to find what Chicago could offer to the Olympic Games and to the Olympic movement," El Moutawakel said. "We would also like to acknowledge the commitment of the city under the strong leadership of Mayor Daley."
When asked what stands out as a highlight of the Chicago bid, El Moutawakel said, "We felt, honestly, that the concept and vision and the love of the sports were there
We felt that the whole community was behind the bid, backing the bid."
Chicago 2016 CEO Pat Ryan said of the evaluation commission: "They didn't like the weather Sunday afternoon. But they loved the support of the press. They asked challenging questions. The interesting thing is all of us worked really hard all day."
As for the proposed lakefront Olympic Village: "The site is beautiful, fantastic, it's gonna be a great village for the athletes," said IOC Olympics Executive Director Gilbert Felli.
But let's not get cocky.
Because just as the chairwoman giveth, she also taketh away.
"The bid is a strong one, but at the end, there is only one winner and this is what I would like to emphasize," El Moutawakel said. "There are four also strong bidders, but at the end, there is only one winner."
A winner that won't be picked by this commission.
"The members at large don't really take a great deal of interest," said Olympic journalist Morley Myers. "Voting for a city is about, it's not facts and figures, it's emotion, loyalty and a sense of feeling."
But between the lines of the diplomatic responses by both sides was the feeling that Chicago's plan was sound, despite misgivings from the group which protested nearly at every stop, and actually met with commission members today.
"Our economy is in turmoil right now. Our CPS has a great deficit, the state has a great deficit, the Chicago Housing Authority has a great deficit, the CTA has a great deficit," said Willie J. R. Fleming of No Games Chicago. "If we cannot guarantee simple infrastructure in our city, how can we guarantee a mega event? And that's a risk not worth taking."
That opposition aside, Chicago appears ready to move ahead.
"I feel very confident about the product we have right now," said United States Olympic Committee Vice President Bob Ctvrtlik. "My biggest concern is getting out around the world and communicating this product now to the entire membership."
Earlier, the IOC team heard about Chicago's elaborate security net for the 2016 Games. The evaluation committee took briefings from the police, fire and emergency chiefs at the Fairmont Hotel.
Federal, state and local law enforcement would operate under a single unified command. Today's final meeting followed a red carpet night at the Art Institute. Mayor Daley said Oprah stole the show.
"Sure, she steals the show anytime," Mayor Daley said. "She's very popular in the world. Let's be realistic, she's very very popular."
The mayor is grateful for star-studded support from Oprah, President Obama and Michael Jordan, and he feels Chicago presentations went well.
After nearly a week evaluating Chicago's bid
, the IOC evaluation commission members will hit the road to check out the other finalists.
Next week, they are off to Tokyo, and will be there from April 16th to April 19th.
Then, they'll land in Rio de Janeiro at the end of the month, from April 29th to May 2nd.
Their tour ends in Madrid where they will be from May 5th to May 8th.
Decision day is still six months away. The IOC will announce the 2016 Summer Olympics host city on October 2, 2009.
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