At first glance it might seem to be a pretty big stretch to think Barack Obama’s recent election victory will have any impact on Team Handball in the United States. In all likelihood, President-Elect Obama probably doesn’t even know the sport exists. http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.483
But a President Obama could play a major role in the single most important event upcoming for USA Team Handball in several years. This event is the IOC Congress next October in Copenhagen at which the 116 members of the IOC will vote to decide which city will host the 2016 Olympics. Should that city be Chicago, USA Team Handball will not only automatically qualify for the Olympics, it would also benefit from multiple marketing and fundraising opportunities.
And Barack Obama could very well be the X factor that puts Chicago over the top of Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. Politics is not supposed to play a role in the selection of host city, but it would be foolish not to think that the United States ongoing war in Iraq along with George Bush’s lack of popularity around the world was at least some factor in New York’s non selection in 2005 for the 2012 games.
New York’s non-selection wasn’t a surprise, but London’s victory over Paris was. Many have attributed it to Prime Minister Tony Blair’s schmoozing with IOC members in the 48 hours preceding the vote. With only 116 people to engage with personality and political skills can be vital in swaying a few critical votes your way. Even simple gestures can have an impact. One such gesture was Vladamir Putin’s address in English to the IOC which helped get Sochi selected for the 2014 Winter Games.
No matter what your political leanings are you can’t help but walk away from a Barack Obama address without being impressed by his eloquence and ability to communicate. Nothing against the leaders of Brazil, Japan and Spain, but if Obama shows up in Copenhagen to push for Chicago’s candidacy it will not be a fair fight. The rest of the World is already celebrating his victory and I can already visualize the IOC members posing for pictures with the inspirational Obama.
A lot, of course, can happen in a year and there are other issues such as the USOC’s share of Olympic revenues that might prevent a Chicago Olympics. It’s never over till it’s over, but in my view it’s time to start drawing up the 8 year plan for USA Team Handball.
BBC Sport: “Chicago Olympic Hopes in the Balance”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/mihirbose/2008/10/chicagos_olympic_hopes_in_the.html
BBC Sport: “London Beats Paris to 2012 Games”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/front_page/4655555.stm