Olympic's Fight Not Over When It's Over

Colorado gave back its Games

By Steve Rhodes
|  Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009  |  Updated 1:14 PM CDT
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The bid process for the 2016 Summer Olympics doesn't necessarily end on Friday as you might think.

Just ask the good folk of Colorado.

In 1972, two-and-a-half years after members of the Denver Olympic delegation flew home from Amsterdam triumphant from having won the 1976 Winter Olympics, Colorado voters sent them right back. 

They overwhelmingly rejected the Games on a ballot initiative sparked by concerns about rising costs (ahem) and environmental impact.

"For once, the voters were not persuaded by the appeals that money would eventually trickle down to the workers," former Colorado State Rep. Dennis Gallagher told the Rocky Mountain News.

"The promoters never asked the people how they felt, and the arrogance of some Olympic boosters turned everyone off."

A lawyer and lawmaker named Dick Lamm led the insurrection - all the way to the governor's office.

In a landslide vote, 59.4 percent of Coloradoans said they didn't want taxpayer dollars spent on the Games.

So the International Olympic Committee re-awarded the Games to Innsbruck, Austria.

No other state, nation or city has rejected the Games after winning them.

The embarrassment didn't stop Colorado, though, from future Olympic bids, including the 2002 Winter Games that went to Salt Lake City.

And now Denver officials are looking at a bid for the 2018 Games should Chicago's bid fail on Friday.

But as they know in Denver, even a Chicago win on Friday doesn't necessarily mean it's over.

For complete coverage of Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, click here.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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