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Chicago 2016

Chicago 2016 leader: Why Chicago lost

Patrick Ryan blames bloc voting, other ills

October 6, 2009

Chicago's dream of hosting the 2016 Olympics fell victim to bloc voting in the International Olympic Committee's unpredictable first round, Patrick Ryan, chairman of the local organizing campaign, said Tuesday.

Addressing the Executives' Club of Chicago, Ryan called the first-round elimination a "miscalculation" and said IOC voters assumed the city would advance to later votes. Chicago got the lowest number of votes, 18, in the first round and was eliminated from consideration under IOC rules during Friday's vote in Copenhagen.

"If we had gotten to the second round, I'm not saying we would have won, but it would have been a lot different," Ryan said.

He said IOC members voted for their own regions out of loyalty on the first ballot.

Since U.S. members could not vote while the Chicago bid was active, only Canada, with two members, could be counted on.

"There was a call to support, and I think people said 'Chicago is strong enough to get in the second round, my vote won't matter,' " Ryan said.

"So it wasn't that we can't count. It was that people calibrated the impact of their vote differently," Ryan said.

Ryan said the city's bid might have suffered from frayed relations between the United States and international Olympic panels. He also said some IOC members weren't candid about their voting intentions in the face of sales pitches for Chicago by President Obama and first lady Michelle.

Michelle Obama charmed the IOC, Ryan said. "They prayed together. They laughed together. Only problem is, they did not vote together," he said.

Ryan added: "Once again, people didn't vote the way they said they would. I think 18 people committed to Michelle Obama [in the] crying and praying."

Despite the outcome, the Olympics promotional materials, including some of the banners still hanging at O'Hare and Midway airports, will be preserved, even passed along to the Chicago History Museum, Ryan said.