Forget the economy, the war in Iraq, health care and all that other stuff. President-Elect Obama needs to focus on bringing the Olympics back to the United States.
Okay, that isn't the most important item on Barack Obama's honey-do list. However, Obama's victory over John McCain on Tuesday should have a positive effect on the games returning to America in 2016.
Chicago, the city Obama calls his hometown, is one of the frontrunners to win the bid to host the 2016 games. The Windy City is up against Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid. Obama has already pitched Chicago to the International Olympic Committee and may do so again.
Obama's victory was met with a positive response from nearly every corner of the globe. Like I said, the Olympics aren't the most pressing need right now but being able to win the bid and showcase the U.S. in this manner is huge. We have an image problem as both a player on the world stage and in the eyes of the IOC.
The Atlanta Games of 1996 wasn't perceived as an outstanding Olympics and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City had tons of controversy surrounding them. We all know that our current President has all but alienated the rest of the world. Still, the IOC knows that holding the Olympics in the U.S. is a cash cow for everyone involved and can't stay away.
The Los Angeles Games on 1984 was an exhibition of how to turn the Olympics into a profitable venture. Several of the Games held before '84 left cities broke. And if anything is learned from this current economic crisis, it is that most of the world needs a strong America to stand behind.
One competing city is already worried that Obama puts Chicago over the top:
"Mr. Obama is popular and good at speeches, so things could get tough for Japan," said the senior Japanese Olympic Committee board member Tomiaki Fukuda, according to The Associated Press. "I have a sense of crisis."The decision is less than a year away and, really, any of the cities could win. Yet all have flaws: Rio has to shake off security concerns and the fact that no Olympics have been held in South America; Tokyo would be one cycle removed from Beijing, another east Asian city; Madrid would be European overkill for the Olympics.
IOC member Richard Pound (yes, that is the greatest name in the history of the world) may have said it best:
"On the international scene, the U.S. really needs to put the last eight years behind it and build new bridges, and having a new president who can do exactly that will do wonders for a U.S. bid."