I spent the past week in Chicago, which coincided with the final few days’ run-up to the decision on their bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
I’d forgotten how crazy Vancouver had gotten about the Olympic bid in
2001 July 2003, with the huge effort by government and businesses to show their support and that they “backed the bid.” Oprah and the Obamas flew to Copenhagen (amidst plenty of controversy) to communicate their desire to host the games.
Posters and signs covered the city, all displaying the logo of the would-be 2016 games. Statues had been adorned with faux medals. Friday – IOC voting day – had been declared a civic holiday, so citizens could head down to the Celebration Plazas and watch the announcement live on big screens. The water in the fountain at Daley Plaza was dyed orange for the occasion.
I remember being in a similar place in
2001 2003 – I was among the crowd at GM Place, watching the bid announcement when the IOC was voting between Peyongchang, Salzburg and Vancouver. I still remember the exact intonation of Jacques Rogge’s voice, as he announced the winner.
I remember Nancy Green-Raine exploding, and bouncing up and down like a sugar-fueled six-year old.
I remember then-mayor Sam Sullivan beaming and shaking hands.
I remember my roommate at the time, who’d actually been the one to get the tickets, moaning in misery that we’d actually won. Being anti-games, she was hoping for hefty dose of early-morning schadenfreude.
And I remember looking back up at the jumbo-tron, with the images of thousands of disappointed Koreans, wondering what it would’ve been like had Vancouver lost.
Now I know.
It looks a little something like this:
I had some time to kill after meetings on Friday, before my flight, so I went on one of those “hop-on/hop-off” tour buses, and listened to the driver rant about how those damn signs need to come down NOW so the city can forget their humiliation and move on.
I also listened to the news pundits turn on a dime, and go from praising the Obama’s empassioned speechcraft and delivery to lambasting them for “delivering what amounted to another campaign speech from last November and had nothing to do with the bid for the games” (huh?).
And I watched thousands of Chicago citizens wander off, signs dragging, looking a bit blank as if they weren’t quite sure what to do with the rest of their rainy Friday.
It could’ve been Vancouver. And as a proud Vancovuerite pro-games Olympic afficionado, I’m awfully glad it wasn’t.