On October 2nd the IOC will vote to decide whether Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid or Tokyo will host the 2016 Olympic Games. It’s hard to understate the importance of this upcoming decision and its future impact for USA Team Handball. A Chicago victory means automatic qualification and likely a sizable amount of sponsor funding. How much remains to be seen, but if the Weather Channel gave USA Team Handball a Million dollars in 1996, it stands to reason that a lot more could be secured twenty years later. And that funding is vital to implementing a whole host of developmental programs that are envisioned. Ancillary benefits like national teams willing to come to the States and media exposure are also likely.
Not being selected won’t be the end of the world for USA Team Handball, but unquestionably it will result in a different income statement and, in turn, scaling back on whatever plans have been drafted for development, tours, and staff.
My colleague, Christer Ahl, did a good job describing the fickleness of the “very important” IOC voters and several pundits in the mainstream media have implored President Obama to travel to Copenhagen and work some magic on the voters the way that Tony Blair did four years ago. What’s been under reported for the most part, though, is that the smart money is still solidly behind Chicago. Yes, people can bet on where they think the Olympics will be held and Chicago is still a solid favorite despite the Olympic Channel debacle and the potential Obama no-show. Of course, bettors can be wrong, but I’ll generally go with people willing to put some skin in the game as opposed to pundits with nothing to lose and an axe to grind.
As to why Chicago is favored the biggest factor is the cash that a Chicago Olympics will bring. Sure there’s always a little bit of anti-American sentiment and deal making behind the scenes, but there’s also a realization that in this down economy it might be a little foolhardy to not cash in on the sure thing. Then again, Paris was a solid favorite 4 years ago when London edged them out. I’ll never forget the crestfallen faces of my colleagues in Paris and the dejected crowd at the Hotel de Ville on TV. Here’s hoping that there will be plenty of smiling faces in Chicago and Salt Lake City come October 2nd.
USA Team Handball: Overheard in Chicago: http://www.usateamhandball.org/blog/post/1237
Washington Post: For Chicago's Bid, Yes, He Should: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/11/AR2009091101753.html?hpid=news-col-blog
Chicago Sun-Times: IOC member: Get Obama to support bid: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/olympics/1771541,oly-obama-091509.article
Intrade.com market: https://www.intrade.com/jsp/intrade/contractSearch/index.jsp?query=olympics