Certainly nobody should make too much of the "standings" compiled by GamesBids.com's BidIndex, but the authoritative site seems to have captured both the weaknesses in the city's Olympic bid book as well as the zeitgeist surrounding Chicago 2016's efforts in moving Chicago to last place among the four candidates still in the running.
"Frontrunner Tokyo maintains a slightly reduced lead over Rio de Janeiro while both improved their overall scores," GamesBids says. "Tokyo received 61.41 (up 0.19) and Rio scored 59.95 (up 0.22 – the fastest riser); very marginal changes for this stage of the race showing consistency in their campaigns.
"Chicago recorded the only BidIndex decline since the last update in November allowing Madrid to leapfrog ahead into third. Both are very close to the leaders and remain important factors in the race. Madrid scored 58.73 (up 0.10) while Chicago tallied 58.37 (down 0.41)."
Certainly those scores are within a hairsbreadth - but then, so are the differences between Olympic gold and silver medal winners.
"While hundreds of factors are combined to determine a city’s BidIndex, Chicago's recent decline could be blamed in part on record-high estimates for sponsorships, especially during the current economic crisis when sports sponsorships are on the decline. This combined with the fact that Chicago is the only candidate without 100% public government guarantees, might make the city a tough choice for the cautious."
In other words, despite some financial taxpayer guarantees by the city and state, Chicago 2016's financial strategy and projections look a bit too rosy.
"Additionally, the recent reshuffling of United States Olympic Committee leadership might leave an IOC member or two feeling alienated in a campaign where personal relationships are extremely powerful. It’s likely that ballots will be won or lost on margins of just one or two votes."
The competitive advantages of the other cities:
- TOKYO. A compact plan - something Chicago once bragged about - and increasing public support (while support in Chicago may be on the wane).
- RIO. Would be the first Games in South America and is pledging billions of dollars more than any other city in infrastructure spending.
- MADRID. Viewed by GamesBids as the safe choice for its financial guarantees, existing venues and experience.
Meanwhile, Chicago 2016 officials take their plan on the road this week.
"An underdog against a tough field of 2016 Olympic bidders, Chicago will pitch its scenic lakefront and bustling downtown this week as questions linger over the U.S. Olympic Committee's leadership change," the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
"About 1,500 world sports leaders from more than 60 countries, including the 15-person International Olympic Committee executive board, are expected to gather today through Friday at SportAccord in Denver."
In early April the IOC visits Chicago, which "won't appear as gung-ho as Olympics boosters would have hoped," the Tribune reports.