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2016 Olympics is Chicago's to lose

The American city of Chicago is such a hot favourite to win the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics that only they can mess it up, a senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member told AFP.

The 'Windy City' is bidding to succeed where New York failed in the 2012 race won by London, and the IOC member is convinced that such is their professionalism and power that the Summer Games will return to the United States for the first time since Atlanta hosted the 1996 edition.

"They are streets ahead of their rivals," the member confessed. "They have been the frontrunners since day one and nothing has as yet changed my mind that they can lose. "However, as the saying goes 'it is theirs to lose'.

He cautioned, however, that despite initial reservations the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro could be the dark horses even if Brazil are hosting the 2014 World Cup. "The organisation of last year's Pan American Games (in Rio) were not the best," he admitted.

"Also there was a feeling that having secured the World Cup that IOC members would not feel keen to award them the 2016 Olympics because in their style they do not want to feel they are the dessert coming after the main course. "Nevertheless Carlos Guzman (Brazilian IOC member) told me that there was no question of Rio letting up and they would be going all out for victory.

However, the IOC member added that Tokyo's chances of winning the Games were negligible. "With Beijing hosting this year's Games and the decision for 2016 to be taken in 2009 (in October in Copenhagen) - just a year after China is host - it is highly unlikely that IOC members will favour a return so soon to Asia," he said.

Despite Rio's surge, the IOC member believes that the decision will boil down to one thing should they be neck and neck - the head of state of the country.

While some IOC members have pushed for heads of state to be barred from lobbying actively, even IOC president Jacques Rogge hinted after the Sochi decision that their participation could be reviewed, the IOC member is dismissive of that happening. "I doubt that will be brought into force, just imagine how flattering it is for Jacques Rogge to have heads of state bowing their way to his throne in search of glory for their candidates," he said.

"In terms of the 2016 race one has to be brutally honest and say if the Brazilian president came into my hotel room I would ask him to go and fetch me some sandwiches and a coca cola from downstairs...I just wouldn't recognise him. "Now if the President of the United States walked in then that would really grab your would be a no contest."

Chicago, Rio and Tokyo face several other potential rivals including Madrid, who finished third in the voting when London won, Prague, 2006 Asian Games hosts Doha (Qatar) and Baku (Azerbaijan).

From: 2016 Olympics is Chicago's to lose: IOC member, Agence France Presse, 6 Jan

More at: Google News

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