The Obama Effect and USA Team Handball

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.

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”:
BBC Sport: “London Beats Paris to 2012 Games”:

3 thoughts on “The Obama Effect and USA Team Handball

  1. John, you seem pretty euphoric with Obama´s victory, but I would like to point out a couple of things which I think you are wrong:

    1) The reason why New York wasn´t selected for the 2012 olympics was because they were competing against London, which means that they had to share the Commonwealth members votes. It had nothing to do with the war of Iraq (actually if it did, i remind you that the UK supported that war as well and even took part in it, and London got it still). Bush didn´t get it, as Obama wouldn´t have got it either, as St Peter wouldn´t have got it either. So once New York bid fell in the final rounds, all their votes went for London in the final round while Madrid votes were shared out between London and Paris. So London selection wasn´t a surprise at all, pretty logical.

    2) I´m glad that you all are euphoric and happy under this "change" (into what?) climate. I don´t know Obama but I am sure he is not God nor Allah. It´s much easier than all this, if Chicago wins it won´t be because of Obama and if it doesn´t it won´t be Obama´s fault. Chicago will have all the Commonwealth votes, Rio the southamericans ones, Madrid the mediterranean ones, and Tokyo the asian ones. The first one to fall will likely be Rio, and most of their votes will go for Madrid. The next one to fall will likely be Tokyo and then… impossible to decide on yet. This reasoning is just simple and dumb. Did Beijing won the 2008 olympics due to China´s president eloquence and sympathies along the world? Sochi 2014 won because Putin spoke in english? Oh come on, how many english spoken countries participate in winter olympics, the Usa and Canada at hockey. If he had wanted to win easier he would have spoken in german, and he would have got all the votes from Austria, Switzerland, Germany and possibly from other closer cultural countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland and such.

  2. Well at the risk of turning into a politics blog I will point out the following:
    1) The U.S. is not part of the British commonwealth. Some of those nations have close ties to the U.S., but many do not.
    2) While the UK supported the war in Iraq, it was(is) largely seen by the rest of the world as Bush's war.
    3) In international forums Russians often stick to their language despite the fact that few people understand it. Putin, who is not overly fluent took the time to practice his presentation in English- for better or worse, the defacto lingua franca in most international forums. A small thing, but small things sometimes make a difference.
    3) The 116 IOC members who decide which city gets the Olympics are human and susceptible to persuasion. Personal foibles, such as a positive view of the country in question will play a role. Could an Asian representative who doesn't have a very strong opinion on one city or another be persuaded by a 10 minute 1 on 1 chat with Barack Obama to select Chicago over Madrid. You bet.
    4) I've spent my entire adult life in the Air Force/Defense Industry. Don't be so certain that I am euphoric with the outcome of the election.
    5) The scenario you outline (Chicago vs Madrid) could happen. The oddsmakers, however, aren't so keen on Madrid putting them as the 7-1 longshot:

  3. I live in NYC, and I did volunteer during the campaign for the Olympics 2012 before we lost to London. It was quite a shock in the beginning because all New Yorkers, and a big part of the world believed we will get the nomination. I don't think Iraq war, nor any other political issue influenced the decision of New York not getting the nomination. The problem was between city and state officials who couldn't make a decision, and convince people in building a NY Jets stadium in the West Side of the city.
    It was going to be one of the largest projects in the only available development sight for such grand projects in New York City. Expansion of Javits Center, and building of the new stadium would have changed everything of who would get the nomination for 2012.
    Nevertheless, the governor at that time Pataki wanted the expansion of Javits Center to take place, but not the stadium. Mayor Giuliani would not agree with Pataki unless the building of the stadium was approved. It took so many years, and so many meeting to finally dismiss the project right before the decision for Olympics was made. That was also the end of hopes for NYC 2012.
    Just recently a developer won the bid to build a huge resident, office, park project which will be the biggest development of NYC in the next 10 years. People are happy the stadium was not build, and therefore nobody in NYC cares so much that they lost the chance to host 2012.

    As for Chicago 2016 I am sincerely hoping they get it, and it doesn't matter how. It's a long stretch to think that Obama could help out, but if the economical situation by that time has improved dramatically under his presidency I believe he would have an impact if he chooses to get involved in it. He has much more at stake then get involved with Chicago 2016. Usually governor and mayor of Chicago play a big role in promoting Chicago as the best city for the Olympics 2016.
    I love Chicago. It's a beautiful city, and I think athletes could have a great time there.

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