Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Anyone Whos Anyone Loves the Olympics

Copenhagen is the place to be this week. Top politicians, A list stars, and sporting legends are all descending on the city. Why? Because this is where the IOC (International Olympic Committee) have decided to sit, and get buttered up by la creme de la creme of humanity, before deciding where they will send the 2016 Olympic games.

So who are the candidates and who do they have fighting their corner? They are Rio, Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago. Rio is going to wheel out Pele and its president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Tokyo's envoy is spearheaded by two Olympic gold medal swimmers Kosuke Kitajima and Ai Shibata. Madrid is relying on the king of Spain and a flamenco dancer named Sara Baras. Then there comes Chicago with Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Yes that's right Oprah will be trying to seal the deal for the US city.

So what does Nickssportrant have an issue with here? Simply that the two people spearheading the Chicago bid probably know nothing what so ever about sport or their Cities bid. Barack Obama is probably the busiest man in politics at the moment, so how long has he been briefed on Chicago's bid? 5 minutes maybe less. However the other cities are taking along heads of state so why should I pick on Chicago? Well because all the other cities are taking backup. Pele, Tokyo's swimmers, and Sara Baras all know the details of their bid and are all active sports men and women. Chicago's back up is Oprah Winfrey, a woman who has never sweated in her life and who therefore probably doesn't care too much about the pending result.

In fairness none of the official faces of the respective campaigns probably know any of the in's and out's of their bid, and here in lies the real problem. Every bid after the 2012 Olympic games selection process will now look this way. This is because Tony Blair's covert chats with top IOC officials are widely recognised as what swayed the committee to vote in London's favor. Unfortunately because the IOC even allowed those meetings to happen they will now be blinded by glamour and stars when what they should be doing is focusing on how good the bids themselves are.

When the bids themselves are scrutinised further it is also clear that Chicago has one thing that sets it apart from the others. It is a money making scheme. The IOC and the US Olympic committee have already started squabbling about who should take the revenue made at the games. The Olympics is supposed to be about the world coming together and promoting sport. Promoting it to the young to insure they adopt healthy lifestyles and true sporting values. The Olympics should not be about setting up a private Olympic TV channel (As proposed by Chicago) or any other monetary issues.

The bidding process is just another extension of this over commercialisation of the Games and should be scrapped. Only officials who have an in depth knowledge of the bids should be allowed to represent them. All meetings should also be made more public so that no covert deals can be made between IOC members and high profile bid backers. This way the bidding process would distance itself from the glitz and glamour that doesn't truly represent what the Olympics are all about.

Having looked at the respective bids online at their official websites, it seems to me that Rio should be the obvious choice. The Olympics has never been held in South America and the bid in general is a strong one. The only concern is Rio's crime rate, but that hasn't stop the Football World Cup being given to South Africa. I for one would like to see a sporting party of epic proportions that would be remembered forever in Rio. What I do not want to see is a few already rich Americans making a fast buck whilst Oprah tells us how without her the Olympics wouldn't happen!

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