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Rio (South Africa) to host 2016 Olympics; Chicago, Tokyo & Madrid Out

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Old 10-02-2009, 05:25 PM
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Default Rio (South Africa) to host 2016 Olympics; Chicago, Tokyo & Madrid Out

Copenhagen: Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympics, announced International Olympic Commitee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge on Friday.

Chicago was voted out in one of the most shocking defeats ever handed down by the IOC. US President Barack Obama's appeals for his adopted home town fell on deaf ears on Friday.

Tokyo (They got selected for 2020) was knocked out in the second round, surviving one round longer than Chicago.

Madrid's surprising success in reaching the final round came after former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch made an unusual appeal for the Spanish capital, reminding the IOC members as he asked for their vote that, at age 89, "I am very near the end of my time."

Chicago had long been seen as a front-runner and got the highest possible level of support from Obama himself. But he also only spent a few hours in the Danish capital where the vote was held and left before the result was announced. Former IOC member Kai Holm said that the brevity of his appearance may have counted against him.

The short stopover was "too business-like," Holm said. "It can be that some IOC members see it as a lack of respect."

Senior Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper surmised that Asian voters may have banded together for Tokyo in the first round, at Chicago's expense.

"I'm shocked," Gosper said. "The whole thing doesn't make sense other than there has been a stupid bloc vote."

He worried that the shock exit could do "untold damage" to relations between the IOC and the US Olympic Committee.

"To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving," he said.

The European-dominated IOC's last two experiences in the United States were bad: the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were sullied by a bribery scandal and logistical problems and a bombing hit the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Obama had held out the enticing prospect of a Chicago games helping to reconnect the United States with the world after the presidency of George W Bush. He told the IOC earlier on Friday that the "full force of the White House" would be applied so "visitors from all around the world feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people."

Now, Chicago can only rue what might have been. And Obama's gamble of expending his own political capital on the bid backfired.

The last US city to bid for the Summer Games, New York, did scarcely better. It was ousted in the second round in the 2005 vote that gave the 2012 Games to London. The US Olympic Committee has had a testy relationship with the IOC, including recent flare-ups over revenue sharing and a USOC TV network.

Tokyo did better than many expected by reaching the second round. It had offered reassurances of financial security, with $4 billion already banked for the games.

But the fact that the Olympics were held only last year in Asia, in Beijing, handicapped the Japanese capital's bid.

Its plans for a highly compact games, sparing athletes tiring travel by holding all but the shooting within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of the city centre, were technically appealing. But the bid failed to generate real enthusiasm, even in Japan. Tokyo had the lowest public backing in IOC polls, with 55 per cent of residents supporting the bid and 7.8 per cent strongly opposed.

Tokyo's final presentation on Friday to the IOC, while smooth and heartfelt, lacked the buzz that the Obamas and Rio generated. In short, Tokyo was simply overshadowed, failing to convince IOC members that it really wanted or needed the games.

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