This photo taken on Friday Jan. 17, 2014, shows two toilets at the cross-country skiing and biathlon center for next monthÌs Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Although two toilets and only one stall like this are not common in Russia, social media users have responded by posting other pictures of toilets standing side by side. One said this was standard at Russian soccer stadiums. (AP Photo/Steve Rosenberg, BBC)
If things had gone differently on that October day in 2009 when the International Olympic Committee dashed the city’s dreams of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, things might be a lot different around Chicago these days.
For one, even for a city that likes to reinvent itself, there would be a whole lot of massive construction projects going on in Chicago today, bone-chilling cold or not. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley might still be our mayor, his heart not broken over being knocked out in the first round of voting. And it would only be the good government types and the civic do-gooders who would be worried about whether the city was borrowing itself into a hole with billions of dollars in new, unrestricted debt.
Oh, and one more thing: You can be sure that after what’s happening in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games, a whole lot of Chicagoans would be scrambling to make sure our toilets worked properly when the world came to our doorstep.
In fact, there’s a whole lot of things Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has chosen to do when his country hosted the games that would never fly here in Chicago. Take security. While Chicago would no doubt take every preventive measure to ensure nothing bad ever happened, it’s unlikely that a Chicago mayor would proudly boast of a “ring of steel” around our Olympic village, as Putin has.
After all, the only “ring of steel” a Chicago mayor is interested in is around keeping the public from knowing how Chicago’s budget is created, or where the dollars actually get spent.
As well, it’s unlikely a Chicago mayor would ever wear a bright red parka with what looks like the fur of an endangered animal around the hood while touring the Olympic village, like Putin recently did before the Winter Games opened.
In Chicago, the water in hotels would be safe to drink, unlike some in Sochi. Our Olympic flame wouldn’t go out 44 times, like it did on the way to the Games this year. We wouldn't systematically shoot hundreds of stray dogs to keep the streets looking nicer, either, nor would opponents of the administration be barred from attending simply for their political beliefs.
OK, well, maybe not that last one.
And the toilets would work properly, too. Much hilarity and sniggering has gone on around the world, as images of crazy bathroom facilities in Sochi have gone viral on social media. There’s the toilet complete with extra chairs for public viewing. There’s the dual toilets for using with a very good friend. There’s the toilets that aren't hooked up, and those that don't allow fishing for good measure.
Most important, of course, an Olympic Games in Chicago wouldn’t be held in a country that doesn’t outlaw gay “propaganda”, actively chooses to stigmatize an entire community of citizens and shamefully turns a blind eye and tacitly encourages violence against gays by homophobic Russian gangs.
Instead, if they Olympic Games had come to Chicago, we would have gotten just about what you would expect: a multi-billion trough of funds for business, politicians and the like to wallow around in, a grand master plan for a shiny Olympic village that helped keep Chicago a world-class city, a influx of a million or more people from around the world that would have driven regular Chicagoans crazy and questions over whether the whole thing would ever pay for itself.
Oh, and very likely one giant stroke to our collective egos when it was all over.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure. Today, Chicago’s Olympic dreams are nothing but a faded memory.
But, I can tell one thing for certain. In Chicago, it's a one-toilet-per-stall policy, bub.
I don't care what you foreign types do back in your home countries.