Dear Member of the
International Olympic Committee:
|The 2016 Committee is under fire from all sides.
The local press which is now covering their mis-statements on the funding of the Olympic Village and from citizens who are demanding answers at the community meetings the 2016 Committee has staged around the city.StreetWise is a weekly news magazine sold by Chicago's homeless. It covers community issues and stories of social justice in the city. The current issue covers community reaction to the bid.
FROM THE STREETS: CHICAGO 2016 HARD SELL
Shea Gibbs, StreetWise Contributor
At a recent neighborhood meeting of
Shore residents, there was vocal
to the proposed 2016 Summer Olympics. It's not that
residents don't want the games to come to Chicago-they
just want to make sure the Olympics benefit their neighborhood.
"Where's our guarantee?" asked Douglas
Brown, an area man who was among
more than 100 individuals who
attended the July 15 meeting at the South Shore Cultural Center. It offered residents of the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th wards a chance to come
out and respond to a presentation given by Chicago 2016, a nonprofit launched to attract the Olympics to the Windy City.
Chicago's currently in the running
with Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Madrid to
host the 2016 summer games; the host city will be voted on and decided by the
International Olympic Committee on October 2.
According to Chicago
2016, hosting the games would be a boon to the infrastructure-not to
mention the coffers-of Chicago, and residents have nothing to worry about,
particularly when it comes to displacement of renters and home owners.
supporters point to the international spotlight - a worldwide viewing
audience of four billion - that Chicago
would gain from hosting the Games.
"It's my hope that 2009 will be the beginning of a new era for Chicago-one of renewed civic pride, expanded sport programs for youth, an elevated
international profile and a stronger economic foundation;' Pat Ryan. local insurance magnate and Chicago 2016 Chairman and
CEO of the nonprofit says on the Chicago 2016 Web site. Supporters say also
that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will create the equivalent of 315,000 full time jobs for one year, over half of which would be in Chicago, at over $7
billion in wages. Economic
development over 11 years would amount to $22.5 billion. The proposed
site of the Olympic athletes village would become
mixed income housing and retail with up to 30 percent affordable
should expect that Chicago 2016 will ... stage an outstanding Olympic Games
that will make our city very proud ...[We
will] manage the games efficiently and within our budget [and] ensure that the benefits from hosting the games will
be shared by the entire city," Ryan said.
But some groups aren't about to take Chicago 2016 at its word. The Kenwood Oakland Community Organization offered a similar view to that of Brown and other attendees of the recent meeting: according to a group spokesperson, the organization would support the Olympics coming to
Chicago only if
it receives "a legally binding community benefits agreement."
Others at the meeting wondered if
trust the city of Chicago to keep their best
interests in mind given the municipal government's track record. The Chicago 2016 committee repeatedly stressed that it's not a government entity
but rather a group of volunteers.
However, the "guarantee" referenced by Brown refers to a sum
of money Chicago must commit to providing
should private funding fall through,
or if its hosting duties run significantly over budget.
Another opposition group, No Games, says the one thing that's guaranteed is that the city will
be required at some point to pony up
those funds. According to community coordinator and No Games spokesman Tom Tresser, no city has earned any profits from hosting the Olympics in the modern
era, and the only real beneficiaries of hosting duties will be the
games' corporate sponsors. Chicago
already is in the red,"Tresser said. "Our city is falling
Games contends there will be at least three direct negative effects if Chicago
hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics: the city will be forced to pay money it doesn't have, residents will be displaced
from their homes, and parklands will
be damaged. Tresser also said he
believes the city will attempt to
clear its streets of people it deems undesirable.
"It's like a mini police
state," he said. "Young men of color will be swept off the
any rate, the next significant date for the bid to host the 2016 summer
games is something everyone can agree on. On
October 2 the IOC will vote to determine which of the remaining contender cities gets to host the games; between now
and then, Chicago 2016 will attempt
to convince Chicago
residents that the games will be profitable
and that the exposure the city receives will be positive and attract
tourists in the future.
"We believe we can truly change the city and
become world-class," said
Chicago 2016 president Lori Healey. "We
need your support. We need the support of the people of Chicago in order to win."
No Games will carry the opposite
message to the people of Chicago as well as the voting members of the
IOC. The group shadowed the IOC in protest
as it toured Chicago in April, and it distributed information to dissuade the committee from voting for Chicago
at a recent meeting to discuss the four finalists in Switzerland.
at the July 15 meeting, a woman who didn't identify herself as a member
of No Games repeated a mantra that's become
associated with the group: "No
blank check." The phrase refers to the guarantee required of the
city of Chicago
in order for it to continue with its bid for the 2016 summer games. After rolling out a poster board emblazoned with
the slogan, she attempted to rouse the crowd into chanting it along with her.
It didn't take.