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COPENHAGEN — The Olympics were awarded to a South American city for the first time when the International Olympic Committee on Friday voted for Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Games.
Rio de Janeiro beat Madrid in the final round of voting, 66-32. The committee delivered an unexpectedly early knockout blow to Chicago, which was eliminated in the first round. Tokyo was gone in the second.
Jacques Rogge, the president of the committee, made the announcement, sending crowds in Rio de Janeiro into celebration.
The announcement was shown live on Rio’s Copacabana beach, where tens of thousands of people had begun the party early in front of a main stage flanked by screens. As the envelope was opened in Copenhagen and the city’s name rang out, a loud scream rose from the crowd. Confetti exploded from the stage, as the people, dressed in shorts and bikinis, jumped to samba music and waved Brazilian flags and balloons of green and yellow, the national colors. The crowd spread to the water’s edge, and more people continued to arrive for a celebration that promised to last well into the night.The scene was different earlier in Chicago as throngs in Daley Plaza gasped in disappointment when Rogge announced that Chicago was out. It was a surprising verdict, especially after President Obama’s whirlwind trip to boost the bid of his adopted city. Mr. Obama was the first American president to make an in-person appeal for a bid city, and the first lady, Michelle Obama, had also come this week to lobby I.O.C. members for votes. The Obamas were flying back to Washington at the time of the vote. A spokesman said Mr. Obama still believed it had been worth the effort.
Chicago’s bid leaders had worked for nearly four years and spent close to $50 million to try to bring the Summer Olympics to the United States for the first time in 20 years. Chicago had been considered among Olympic insiders as a favorite to win the Games, along with Rio.
Instead, the I.O.C. crushed an American city’s hopes for the second straight time. New York’s bid was eliminated in the second round of voting for the 2012 Olympics.
The WH, who earlier this week had the audacity to question the patriotism of those who thought he should be worrying about more urgent matters like, oh, I dunno – Afghanistan? – had this to say on the question of whether or not it was appropriate for the POTUS to be lobbying for the Olympics:
Q Did he put too much presidential prestige on the line by coming, win or lose?
MR. GIBBS: No. Three world leaders showed up here in addition to us. Again, if he hadn’t come, I’m sure people would say, I can’t believe he didn’t go and push the American bid for the Olympics; we’re out of the first round because the President didn’t — you know. Look, if you can’t take that sort of just base level of gnat-like criticism, then it’s probably the wrong gig.
Got that? If you felt like the President had more pressing needs to address in this country right now, then your criticism – according to the WH – is nothing more than “gnat-like.” Yes, I know – you’re just as shocked as I am that Gibbs would say something like that about his bosses’ critics.
Oh well. They’ve still got the Olympic-esque Greek columns/temple set on which to look back fondly.
And speaking of Rio, I can’t end this post without including the video for the song Rio, which was done by one of my favorite 80s bands – Duran Duran:
Related: A quick Rio ‘factbox” – via Reuters.