Supporters of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics were shocked Friday by news that the city was the first of four finalists to be eliminated from consideration.
The news from the International Olympic Committee came mere hours after President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama delivered personal appeals to the selection committee, praising the virtues of their hometown. “I’m totally stunned. I thought we had a great opportunity,” NBA great Michael Jordan told CNN. Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles and won two Olympic gold medals, said the city would have been “perfect for the world to explore.” The city is “deserving of an event of that magnitude,” and Jordan said he hopes it will try again. Watch Chicago get the bad news U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a Chicago Democrat, said the loss is “kind of heartbreaking. … A tremendous amount of effort has been put into trying to win the bid.” Sam Sianis, owner of Chicago’s famous Billy Goat Tavern, said people were disappointed. “Me too. … I can’t believe they didn’t vote for Chicago.” Watch Chicagoans react to the decision Sianis, who was planning to host a victory celebration if the city had won the bid for the 2016 Games, said a few people had come into the tavern after the announcement, “and their heads are down. We lost. … I lost my smile.”
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Chicago could put together another bid in the future, but even if it’s successful, “a lot of the people who would have loved to see the Olympics in Chicago aren’t going to be around anymore,” he said. The response around the city was not all negative, however. Brian Fadden, a manager at Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, said winning the Olympic Games would “have been good and bad. Some things would have been taken care of quicker than they would (otherwise) have as far as infrastructure and whatnot, but … I don’t think they needed it. It would just cause more problems.” The Olympics would have lasted 17 days, he noted, but “who knows what we would have had to deal with after that I mean, taxpayers are probably going to end up paying for this.” David Hoffmann, CEO of Arts and Artisans gallery on Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue, was pleased with the news. “I’m delighted,” he said. “For one month of good sales in our business, we would have had every landlord in town try to really do us a number on our next lease negotiations.”
Many observers of the Olympic site selection process considered Chicago, along with eventual winner Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to be a frontrunner for the 2016 Games. Watch the IOC announce the winner Chicago’s bid “didn’t work out, but it was worth the effort,” White House adviser David Axelrod said.