Friday, September 25, 2009

7123: Diversity Is An Olympic Event.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Diversity key to games bid success

2016 | Olympics panel wants to see full range of city’s ethnicity, experts say

By Lisa Donovan | Cook County Reporter

Mayor Daley’s Olympic bid team is entering the final week of the campaign for the 2016 Games, and experts agree that pulling ahead in the tight race requires everyone from the White House on down to sell the city’s diversity and financial plan while politely slamming the competition.

One week from today, President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, Daley and Chicago 2016 bid CEO Patrick Ryan, along with a select, undisclosed few others will stand before the International Olympic Committee in Denmark to make a final pitch for Chicago. While the group is biracial, the team also needs to reflect the city’s wider ethnic communities.

Just-released U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2008 show there are 2.7 million residents in Chicago, with whites in the minority, African Americans making up 34 percent of the population and Hispanics 28 percent of the population.

“If you don’t look like you’re including all the citizens of your city in some way, the [IOC members] kind of understand that,” Andrew Young, who co-chaired Atlanta’s winning bid for the 1996 Summer Games, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The city’s growing Hispanic population, along with Polish, Italian, Asian and other communities, also should have a voice in the final bid for the Games, whether it’s the final presentation or the hard-core lobbying effort in the days leading up to the vote, observers say.

After Atlanta won the 1996 Games, IOC members praised the diversity of the bid team.

Young, a former United Nations ambassador, said the presentation was an exclamation point on a bid that for years called on Atlanta’s diverse community to lobby IOC members.

“The thing we marketed all along is, there were 71 countries, and we had someone in Atlanta doing well in 65 of those countries. So, we went to the Koreans, we went to the Polish delegation, the Irish delegation,” said Young, credited with locking up the African IOC vote, believed pivotal in the city’s win.

Chicago 2016’s bid team says it has been trying to hammer the message home, trotting out city Tourism Department statistics showing 132 languages are spoken in Chicago, which along with the suburbs counts 26 ethnic groups.

“The IOC membership—they have seen a diverse team as well as people from different parts of our city,” said Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky.

In the days leading up to the Oct. 2 vote, officials from Chicago and the competing cities of Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro will be in Copenhagen to schmooze with IOC members—an opportunity for everyone from the White House to the mayor to explain how Chicago’s $4.8 billion Games plan—the least expensive of the four bids and perhaps the most perplexing—will be financed.

While the other cities have the full backing of their governments to pay for the Games, Chicago 2016 has a plan that largely draws on private donations.

“What I think most IOC members do is try and choose the city that brings the least risk,” said Canadian IOC member Richard Pound.

“Your personal views, whether you’d like to spend two weeks in Chicago, Rio or Madrid, is less important when you’re exercising this choice,” Pound said in a telephone interview this week. “The thing IOC members are asking themselves is ‘where do I have the least risk?’”

And that’s where the art of slamming the competition comes in. Olympic rules restrict a bid city from saying or doing anything to tarnish a rival city. But experts agree each city needs to distinguish itself.

For Chicago, that means setting itself apart from its biggest threat: Rio.

Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consulting firm SportsCorp Ltd., suggests Chicago “needs to emphasize the strengths and subtly, very subtly highlight some of the weaknesses of the other cities.”

Contributing: Washington Post Foreign Service, AP

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