IOC Sees Chicago -- Rain, Snow and All

IOC goes back inside on Monday after chilly, wet tour Sunday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago's Olympic team took its visitors from the International Olympic Committee safely back inside again Monday, after a whirlwind day where the Olympic inspection team got a crash course in Chicago geography AND meteorology.

    The day-long venue tour on Sunday visited existing sites, and potential athletic locations for the 2016 Games.  At the United Center, last stop on the tour, the committee even got a personal greeting on the giant Jumbo-tron, from the most famous basketball player of all time.

    "I've had some tremendous memories in my professional basketball career," said Michael Jordan.  "But the memory of representing the United States in the Olympics, is one of the proudest moments of my life!"

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    The United Center would be renamed the "Chicago Arena" for the Games, and would be home to basketball, gymnastics, and handball.

    The venue tour is easily one of the most critical elements of the site visit, and at almost every step, Olympic organizers tried to feature elements of the city's multicultural landscape.  Chinese dragon dancers and Native American musicians greeted the Olympic team at McCormick Place, which would host 11 Olympic events.  School children played soccer at Soldier Field, which was adorned with a giant "Chicago 2016" logo at midfield.  Soldier Field would be the venue for the soccer final.

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    The Olympic entourage also visited Washington Park, where volunteers braved the cold and rain, holding the flags of every Olympic nation, to outline the footprint of the proposed Olympic Stadium.

    Ironically, something which currently doesn't exist, the proposed Olympic Village, may be one of the most critical memories the inspection team will take home.

    "It is the most important, because that becomes your house," said Olympic legend Nadia Comaneci.  "It's got to be the perfect place for you to have everything, and feel like you're home!"

    For athletes, proximity to venues is important, but they practice more than they actually compete.  And often, practice venues are far from the Olympic Village.

    "One of the biggest concerns is spending all day schlepping around town on buses," said Olympic champion Bart Conner.  "Gymnastics is training right in the Olympic Village.  All of those considerations were done right from the beginning."

    The Village would feature a private beach, a dance club, and proximity to venues which might possible make it the closest Olympic housing ever.  "Great proximity," said Olympic medalist Christine Magnuson.  "It's going to be a party down there--an athletic party!  It's going to be so much fun!"

    Many of the venue stops were quite technical.  But Conner said it's important to send the visiting IOC team back with a sense of security about their most precious commodity:  the Games themselves.  "My analogy is they're like a parent with this beautiful child," he said.  "And you're looking for someone to take care of your child.  It's a powerful movement for peace and inspiration for kids.  They want to make sure it's in good hands!"