London 2012 Chief: No Front-Runner, No Also-Ran for 2016

IOC will award 2016 Summer Games in 3 weeks

By BJ Lutz and Associated Press
|  Monday, Sep 7, 2009  |  Updated 2:30 PM CDT
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Chicago Presents Itself

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Chicago Presents Itself

The IOC watched this video promoting Chicago as THE place to be for the 2016 Games.
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It's anyone's Games.

That's according to one of the people who helped engineer London's narrove victory for the 2012 Summer Games, and who is now heading that city's Olympic organizing committee.

"They are all cities quite capable of staging extraordinary games," said Sebastian Coe. "All have very smart, very clear visions. This one (race) is probably posing many IOC members bigger questions than for some of the other rounds."

Coe sings a different tune than other Olympic experts, who have said that the race for the 2016 Summer Games is likely between Chicago and Rio de Janeiro.

Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo are the candidates. The International Olympic Committee will select the winner by secret ballot in Copenhagen on Oct. 2.

"I think this is probably even closer and tighter than the 2012 round," Coe said during a visit to the Associated Press' London offices on Monday. "I think we probably recognized at this stage in the 2012 round that London and Paris probably had the momentum, and you could probably at that point have looked at the other cities and said at least two of them are beginning to tread water. It's very difficult to say that about any of these cities."

Paris was widely considered the front-runner in the 2012 race, but London beat the French capital 54-50 in the fourth round of the voting in Singapore in 2005. Moscow, New York and Madrid were eliminated in the first three rounds.

The 2016 bid cities, representing four different continents, have been campaigning furiously going into the final weeks of the race with no obvious favorite or also-ran. Just getting through the first round in Copenhagen could be crucial.

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, traveled to Singapore and was instrumental in lobbying IOC members to vote for London. As Russian President, Vladimir Putin helped secure the 2014 Winter Games for Sochi when he attended the IOC vote in Guatemala City in 2007.

Still unclear is whether President Barack Obama will go to Copenhagen to push Chicago's bid to bring the Summer Olympics back to the U.S. for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"Clearly a city needs to show that it has seamless political support," Coe said. "All cities will decide how they demonstrate that. Some will demonstrate it by bringing their political heads of state along, others will demonstrate that by showing local commitment."

Chicago Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who last month visited last year's Olympic site, Beijing, said that Obama needs to be more visible to help the United States' effort.

"The four finalists are basically Madrid, Rio, Tokyo and Obama. They don't mention Chicago, and I thought that was very revealing," Solis said shortly after he returned home.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be in Copenhagen to try to convince the IOC to send the Olympics to South America for the first time. King Juan Carlos of Spain will be there for Madrid's bid. Japan has invited incoming prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and Crown Prince Naruhito to attend.

But Coe said there is no magic winning formula.

"The one thing I do know from the bid we were involved in and having become a little bit of a student of these bids, there isn't a set template," he said. "No city should be sitting there saying, 'London did this, Sochi did that, or Paris did this.' You have to do what you absolutely genuinely think is intrinsically a part of your narrative. Trying to do something simply because another city did it is a dangerous route."

Full Coverage:  Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid

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