Chicago to carry Olympic torch

first_imgVillaraigosa and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley shook hands as they entered the hotel conference room. The L.A. team sat on one side of the room, Chicago on the other. Ueberroth praised both cities, saying, “If I had all power – and sometimes people accuse me of that – I would take the map and merge the two cities.” Even Ueberroth didn’t know the winner as an aide handed him a sealed envelope containing the results of the committee’s secret vote. “I felt like we had it,” said Joseph McCarthy, a two-time Paralympian who was among the Los Angeles presenters. “Everybody on our committee performed to the maximum,” McCarthy said. “We couldn’t be upset because we gave it our best.” Olympic pundits had dubbed Los Angeles the “safe choice.” Having hosted the event in 1932 and again in 1984, the city already had facilities and could offer assurances that it knew how to host a successful global sporting event. Ueberroth on Saturday flatly denied that Los Angeles’ previous hosting of the Games worked against it. “These were the two best cities by far. It was a close vote,” he said. Board members said they are keeping the vote tally confidential in order to present a united front on behalf of the winning city to the International Olympic Committee. Longtime Olympic watchers, however, said they read easily into the members’ gushing remarks about Chicago’s proposed athlete’s village. “That lakefront legacy really was the tipping point,” said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC. “Yes, the financial guarantees were there. Yes there was a groundswell of support from Chicagoans. But the point of separation was the lakefront legacy,” he said. In Los Angeles, supporters and members of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games gathered at The Grove to listen to a live audio feed of the announcement. As Chicago was announced, the crowd fell quiet with a sense of resignation and disappointment. Many said they had expected Chicago would get the nod. “We did everything we possibly could,” said John Naber, a 1976 Olympic medalist in swimming and a vice president of the committee. “I support Chicago. We want them to do well.” Villaraigosa also insisted that there was nothing Los Angeles could or should have changed. “This wasn’t about a weak point,” he said. “These were two great presentations here. Somebody had to win. I feel strongly that we put our best foot forward. I wouldn’t change one single thing.” Daley also had only praise for Los Angeles. “Los Angeles is a great city. They put us through our paces,” he said, adding, “It’s a great day for Chicago, and 2016, here we come.” Chicago will now vie against Madrid, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and other international hubs to host the Games. The 115-member IOC will vote in Copenhagen in 2009, and the winning locale will need at least 60 of those votes. Staff Writer Alejandro Guzman contributed to this story. lisa.friedman@langnews.com (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Ending a fierce yearlong competition, Los Angeles’ bid to host a third Olympics slipped away Saturday as the U.S. Olympic Committee chose Chicago to be America’s candidate for the 2016 Summer Games. In the end, it appeared that Lake Michigan seduced the committee more than the Pacific Ocean. Specifically, USOC board members said they were enticed by Chicago’s proposal to build a $1.1 billion athlete’s village and various facilities on the city’s downtown lakefront. “Personally, I love the idea of the athletes on the lakefront. I don’t think that’s ever happened, and it could be great,” said USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth. “For the Olympic Games to be a success, we need to re-create a certain magic,” said USOC Vice President Bob Ctvrtlik, noting the Lake Michigan village could do that. Los Angeles officials, who had rolled out a glitzy campaign to woo the committee that included a final promise of funding guarantees, admitted to shock and disappointment after the vote. But Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged to work as hard for the Windy City as he would have for the City of Angels, and he vowed to use his personal global contacts to push Chicago’s bid as it now vies against international cities. “This was a true competition in the greatest sense. It was two great cities battling to the very end. But once the competition is over, we come together,” he said. The decision caps a year of bid proposals, official visits and PowerPoint presentations from both cities hoping to be America’s official Olympic hopeful. On Saturday morning, both teams met with the 11-member board to give their final pitches. Less than three hours later, the USOC announced the winner in a scene at the Hilton Washington Embassy Row Hotel that had all the suspense of an Oscar award. last_img

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