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Rio de Janeiro wins out as host of 2016 Olympics

Rio will be the first South American city to host the Games. Chicago's loss is a disappointment to President Obama, who traveled to Copenhagen to promote the US bid.

By Andrew Downie – Correspondent, Dan Murphy – Staff writer / October 2, 2009

Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach celebrates after the city won the nomination Friday to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Silvia Izquierdo/AP


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Swaying International Olympic Committee votes with the argument that South America has never hosted an Olympic games before, Brazil's sun-drenched Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, holding out against last-minute lobbying by President Barack Obama for his adopted home city of Chicago.

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Tens of thousands of ecstatic Brazilians, crowded along the city's famed Copacabana beach, erupted in cheers and dancing when the news was announced shortly before 1 p.m. local time, even as crowds in Chicago and the other defeated cities, Madrid and Tokyo, trudged home in disappointment.

The announcement by IOC President Jacques Rogge in Copenhagen came after days of intense lobbying from the likes of Mr. Obama, the Spanish royal family, and the new Prime Minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama. In the Brazilian corner were President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and soccer great and global sports icon Pele, who borrowed Obama's campaign catch phrase, "yes we can," in their successful effort to sway voters.

Now Africa is the only inhabited continent not to have been awarded an Olympic games (Antarctica, presumably, will have to wait at the back of the line).

With the decision made and Brazil already slated to host the 2014 World Cup, now comes the hard work of renovating old stadiums and infrastructure and building new facilities in a program of spending that the Brazilian government expects will top $14 billion.

Where that money will come from, and whether the benefits will outweigh the costs, is now on some Brazilian's minds.

Olympian costs

The country has suffered along with the rest of the world in the current global recession, but is also bringing on-line rich new oil and gas deposits off its coast.

Rio officials predict that for every Brazilian real spent, three times that much will return in tourism and other investments.