Yesterday I gave a speech on health reform to a group of executive spouses. The group was organized by Shirley Ryan, whose husband Pat led Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 summer Olympics. Before introducing me, Mrs. Ryan described the failed bid and concluded that Rio was the inevitable winner because the IOC wanted to put the Olympics in South America.
If Rio had this built in advantage, then the Chicago bid team pursued a strategy that was doomed to fail. The USOC presented Chicago as America’s city. This was a colossal mistake, as the IOC has clearly grown tired of American nationalism.
But Chicago could have won. The city should have positioned itself as the world’s city. Chicago has incredible ethnic diversity, with large communities from literally scores of different countries. Athletes from nearly every nation would have found comfort and support here in Chicago. The message would have been clear: the Olympics belong to no nation. They are for the world. Putting the world’s diversity ahead of partisan nationalism — that would be Chicago’s legacy.
Rio would not have stood a chance.