Chicago 2016 launches multimedia contest

By Kaylee King

Chicago is turning to multimedia in order to gain stride in winning the 2016 Summer Olympics bid on Oct. 2, 2009-when the champion city will be announced.

A recently launched program, called Why Chicago?, gives supporters of the bid an opportunity to submit their own video explaining why the Olympics are a good idea for the city. Contest winners will receive an all expenses paid trip for two to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

The videos are uploaded, un-edited and as-is on Chicago2016.org. Second place winners of Why Chicago? will receive $5,000 worth of video equipment, and one voter will receive a trip for six to the United States Olympic headquarters and training facilities in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“It’s so important to have the commitment of the city and the country for the Olympic games, so we feel this is a great way for us to show people around the world that the people of the U.S. are behind the bid 100 percent,” said Mica Matsoss, a spokesperson from the Chicago 2016 committee.

The project was conceived as a way to keep people engaged and excited about the games throughout the whole campaign period. There were a lot of creative people who wanted to get involved and support the bid, and this was a way to encompass all the people who were enthusiastic about the games, Matsoss said.

In 2004, when New York City was in contention for the 2012 Olympic games, one of the city’s failures was a lack of excitement from New York’s citizens, said Kyle Whelliston, an Olympic historian and ESPN.com writer.

“People got the impression that the Olympics would get lost in everything that New York [City] is about,” he said. “They thought that this would be a side-street sort of thing, much like the Goodwill Games were in 1998.”

The Chicago committee learned a valuable lesson from the Big Apple’s elimination and is hoping that this video contest will be one of the ways of communicating to the International Olympic Committee that Americans are excited about the bid, Matsoss said.

Website visitors can vote on their favorite videos and will be automatically submitted to win the trip. Along with website visitors, a panel of judges made up of members of the Olympic bid committee and the media advisory council will decide who will claim the prizes.

Wes Adams, a Chicago resident, said he is on the fence about whether or not he thinks the Olympics are a good idea for Chicago, but the 31-year-old may consider watching the videos, which could sway his opinion, he said.

“If I was a student, I might do a video; it would be a good project for my resume,” Adams said. “The [Olympics] are going to tax the city, but it’s a beautiful thing to get them.”

Whelliston said the bid for Chicago may move forward faster if Sen. Barack Obama is wins the upcoming presidential election.

“There’s a very good chance that the next president will be down the street and his endorsement, if he chooses to, will put Chicago into the forefront,” he said. “Tony Blair was involved in the 2012 [London] games and Vladmir Putin was a big player in the 2014 [Russian] bid, so Obama may do the same.”

But regardless of who wins the presidency, it’s up to Chicagoans to prove they will support the world class event.

“It’s really important that the Olympic bid committee get really good public reaction and take these videos and show them to the IOC,” Whelliston said. “To show them the local people are really enthusiastic about this, or it will end up just like New York City.”

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