Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


No Olympics in Chicago: How big a blow to Mayor Daley?

Daley devoted much of the past 2-1/2 years to Chicago's Olympic bid, and many see its failure as having a considerable effect on his legacy.

By Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor / October 3, 2009

President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, about his trip to Copenhagen and his attempt to help Chicago win the 2016 Olympics bid. Despite his efforts, the 2016 Olympics bid was awarded to Rio de Janeiro.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Enlarge

Chicago

Most Chicagoans couldn't help but view their city's bid for the 2016 Olympics with their mayor hogging the frame. Even though other public figures lobbied hard, from megastar Oprah Winfrey to President Obama, it was Richard M. Daley who became enshrined as the bid's public face.

Skip to next paragraph

But Mayor Daley's push to bring the Games to Chicago ended Friday, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) eliminated the city from contention and instead awarded the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro.

Following the defeat, Daley tried to make one thing clear to reporters in Copenhagen, where the IOC met: "This was never about Rich Daley. It was about [past Olympic greats] Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. Not me."

Still, with Daley having devoted much of the past 2-1/2 years to Chicago's Olympic bid, many see its failure as having a considerable effect on his legacy.

"It's a huge blow to the mayor. [The Games] would have been the lead to his story," says Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, a government watchdog group in Chicago. "Now he's facing a legacy as Chicago's longest-standing mayor who suffered through multiple corruption scandals. [Winning the Games] would have been spectacular."

On Friday, dark skies and a light rain accented the grim mood at Daley Plaza, the block-long open space in downtown Chicago named after Daley's father, Richard J. Daley, who was also mayor of Chicago and was a force in Democratic politics. Plans for a noontime rally – complete with the plaza's signature Picasso sculpture decked out with an Olympics medal – dissipated once news broke that Chicago was eliminated.

Isaac, who declined to give his last name for fear of appearing too critical of the mayor, voiced what many people in this city feel about Daley's desire to win the Olympics: "This was his Pyramids, his way of stepping out of his father's shadows. [Not winning] is going to hurt him. The world is going to see he doesn't have the pull that he thought he had."

Permissions