Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday.
It is the first time South America will host an Olympics event. The city has budgeted $14.4 billion to the effort, the largest amount of any of the four finalists, according to IOC figures. The final vote was down to Rio and Madrid, Spain. In earlier voting, Chicago, Illinois, and then Tokyo, Japan, were eliminated from contention. After the cities made their presentations to the IOC on Friday, the IOC members sat down to cast their votes in a secret ballot. Ninety-seven of the IOC’s 106 members are eligible to vote in the first round; seven must sit out that round because they represent one of the countries bidding for the Games. A city must receive a majority of votes in order to win. If no city receives a majority, voting moves on to a second round, with the city receiving the lowest number of votes being eliminated, an IOC spokeswoman said. Friday morning, President Obama in Copenhagen urged the IOC to pick his hometown of Chicago, saying the city represents the American dream as well as the Olympic spirit.
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Obama’s address to the 106 IOC members was the highlight of the Chicago bid committee’s final presentation before the vote to choose the host city. “Chicago is a place where we strive to celebrate what makes us different, just as we celebrate what we have in common,” Obama said. He pointed out that from hosting the World’s Fair in 1893 to hosting World Cup events in 1994, the Illinois city has the experience needed to put on an Olympic Games. Watch Obama makes his pitch to IOC Other cities also had their country’s leaders attending the meeting to support their bids. Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia and Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was planning to push the case for Madrid, according to the Madrid 2016 bid committee. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was expected to be joined by soccer legend and Brazilian native Pele as they advertise the benefits of a Rio Games.
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, just two weeks into the job, also planned to be at the vote to demonstrate the government’s full backing of the Tokyo bid, the bid committee said. “It’s not a requirement for heads of state to come to our session,” said the IOC spokeswoman, who asked not to be named. “We are obviously very honored if they decide to come, but there’s no particular requirement.”