Chicago wasn’t ready for 2016

By Lauren Kelly

After a four-year bidding process to host the summer Olympic Games in 2016,

Chicago was eliminated first by the International Olympic Committee when the decision was announced on Oct. 2. Rio de Janeiro was selected as the winning city.

The IOC was wise to eliminate Chicago in the first round, and many Chicagoans are relieved that we weren’t chosen as the host.

As of July, more than $48 million was spent in the attempt to secure the games, and millions more would inevitably have been put toward funding construction and preparation. Chicago can now get its priorities straight and use the money that would have been spent on the games to fund public education, transportation, city works programs and social services—things of vital importance to the everyday lives of residents.

If Chicago had been picked to host the summer games, the consequences could have been incredibly damaging to the city physically, fiscally and socially for many years after the games finished.

The legendary Bird’s Nest structure in Beijing that held the 2008 games’ opening ceremony is in disuse and is starting to decay. To regain income and generate more tourism, development company Citic Group will build shops and entertainment centers around the complex over the next five years in a $450 million deal. It is possible that the buildings from Chicago 2016 would have been left to the same fate.

To keep this from happening after future Olympic Games, the IOC should make it mandatory that all new structures be sustainable and have a realistic use after the games are over.

Supporters of the Chicago bid cited boosts in tourism and jobs as reasons the games would benefit the city, but this view was shortsighted and the potential gains would have left the city worse off than before.

Chicago’s official plan said that some main athletic venues were to be constructed in Washington and Jackson Parks, on the South Side of the city near the University of Chicago. The proposed structures would have displaced many residents of these areas, forcing many to lose their homes all for a two-week Olympic spectacle.

These areas are in need of investment and renovation. Taking action to beautify them for the sake of an aesthetically pleasing Olympic Games is unacceptable.

Chicago is a world-class city, but would not have benefited from hosting the 2016 Olympics. It is fortunate that the IOC realized this, and now we can concentrate on long-term solutions to current problems—improving the quality of life for residents of the city.