Why Rio Won, from www.insidethegames.biz, comments by Larry Eder



In two insightful features posted today on www.insidethegames.biz, one by David Owen and one by Duncan Mackay, the reader will be given a behind the scenes view into the world of global sports politics.....a world that, quite frankly, has been under appreciated in the United States for many years....

First Rule of sportrealpolitik: be gracious, not arrogant

The Rio bid team lost in 2012. Keeping the complaining to a minimum, the bid team inquired to the IOC on a)what they did wrong, and b) what they needed to improve. They took their lessons to heart.

Unlike President Obama in the United States, President Lula was involved intimately in the 2016 process from the very beginning. He took his time meeting the various dignitaries, visiting events and promoting Rio and Brasil. Brazil hosted various global sporting events to show that they had the ability to host the events. One of the points that came up was how the Rio bid showed that their security could provide the IOC the assurances that they could handle a city overwhelmed by tourists in an Olympic setting, which just asks for petty crime, and Rio has had a reputation for petty crime in tourist areas.

President Lula made sure the IOC understood that yes, Rio is the party capital of South America, but Brazil would be the designated driver, insuring that the bills were paid and that the kids kept the noise down. His charm, his sincere interest, and his years of prodding paid off. That Brazil had two of the oldest IOC delegates to guide the bid team through mine filled waters was key.

On the U.S. side, the USOC and IOC were barely exchanging pleasantries. The recent purge of USOC leadership did nothing to enhance the relationship. Jaques Rogge is, from all accounts a thoughtful executive with a global vision. He would not embarrass the USOC, but he could not tolerate either a bully or arrogance. This is a global sports government, and Rogge wants transparency, when it is of value, and curtains, when they are of value. The USOC has not gotten the message--parading the world super power theme is considered gauche--after the 2016 bid, it is clear that the US will have to realize that it is among equals. This may take a few Olympiads to be understood in Colorado Springs. Probably will not be a rush on US bid cities for another four years either.

The improvements in the Brazilian economy also offered the IOC some comfort, and the President brought the head of the Brazilian banking system, Central Bank Governor Henrique Meirelles, to provide assurances that Brazil could, in fact, financially support the event-to the tune of $743 million US. In that way, President Lula could stay the first salesman, and use key aids to provide the supplemental information that the IOC needed to make the decision.

David Owen's piece should be read by any city considering bidding for the Olympic games: http://www.insidethegames.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7312%3Ahow-rio-won-its-bid-to-host-the-2016-olympics&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=73.

President Obama did a strong presentation. It was obvious that he and Michelle Obama were on task. The Chicago 2016 bid showed some weaknesses in presentation, but that was probably nervousness. The Rio bid was polished and professional, without a break-they had learnt from their previous failure. I will tell you though, if I wanted to reach out to the sports world, I would make sure that Michelle Obama was on the presentation list: the First Lady is a closer. I do enjoy the obvious pleasure that President Obama gets in seeing his wife's reception at various events. It does make one proud to be an American.

In the end, one observer noted, " Chicago did not loose, the USOC did." Over and over, it was noted that the USOC had treated the process in an arrogant, unsophisticated manner, not appreciating the power of the IOC. In the end, the USOC hurt Chicago 2016. One observer suggested that the USOC needs to understand that the world is different now, and that even the President and Michelle Obama could not save the Chicago 2016 bid, try as they might.

I have, I must admit, some worries. I worry that a week of the major media in U.S. masticating about why Obama went, what he should have done, how much money was spent will bring on a case of acid reflux. I applaud the President for going, but face it, he was in a no-win situation. If he did not go, someone would complain, if he went, some would complain. While I do love democracy, once in awhile, a good beheading of an obtuse newsperson would make for a qualitatively different kind of afternoon. I guess I have been watching too many episodes of the Tudors...C'est la vie.

Oh, one more digression. Guy Drut, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist, and an IOC majordomo noted that Monsieur Presidente de Etas-Unis did little to help the Chicago cause. I have this picture of Mr. Drut, after winning in Montreal, putting on his sweats and lighting up what I think is a Camel unfiltered! As much as I love all things French (my brother in law Gervais is great bud), I wanted to drop kick Monsieur Drut. His arrogance, instead, made me smile. I will just smile to myself, consider London 2012, and walk happily home tonight. Thank God for Sir Seb Coe and former PM Tony Blair, another couple of real closers.

President Obama, in my mind, is our countries' PR director too, and his visits, his charm, level of professionalism and that A plus brain dealing with A plus problems gives credit to our country, the city of Chicago and the global sports world. The President is a gambler, if he was not, he would have never run for the hardest, most frustrating, most forsaken job in the world. He showed that he is willing to fight for a cause that is good for America. No matter what political affiliation one is, that is a good attribute.

Second rule: The IOC is on a mission...

Even members of the IOC were aghast at the treatment of the US. One global player noted how insulting it was to the President and Michelle Obama, the first couple of the most powerful nation in the world, to be treated as such. In fact, the delegates rushed to meet President Obama, and he graciously shook hands and spoke to many, as had Michelle Obama earlier in the week. The President did get to meet one of his sport heroes, Kip Keino, who he greeted in Swahili. In defeat, the President was gracious. While Mr. Obama was unable to secure the bid for Chicago, he did much to improve the stature of the US in the global sports world. In the end, the gaffes committed over the past several years by the USOC, their lack of remorse, followed by the nearly farcical attempt to develop an Olympic cable network, was just too much to overcome. In Duncan Mackay's feature, http://www.insidethegames.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7311%3Adecision-to-award-olympics-to-rio-hailed-by-ioc-members-but-some-angry-over-treatment-of-chicao&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=73, it was clear that Rio had done their homework, had the spirit of the Games in mind, and their dream of bringing the Olympic movement to South America had resonated with the 98 IOC delegates.

Were the delegates trying to give the US a message? Some were. In the end, it is important not to underestimate the vigor that IOC delegates have about converting another continent to the Olympic movement. Rio did their home work, it was their time, and they learnt from their mistakes. Did it help Chicago that the USOC was so oblivious of global sport politics? Of course it did not help Chicago 2016. I am not sure what could have helped Chicago 2016--the fascination with South America was very strong, and by the time Chicago found a rhythm over the past few weeks, it was just too late.

Were all four bids strong? Of course they were. The world of global sports politics has been democratized, and the IOC still believes, that it is on a divine mission to enthuse another generation of the world's youth that spending several hours a day training for the hurdles is much better than being forced to spend those hours hurling rocks at foreign invaders or learning how to shoot RPGs. The IOC sees global sports as one of the ways to bring this global village closer together.

One final digression. Baron Pierre de Coubertin is the father of the revived Olympic movement. When he died in 1937, the good Baron had his heart buried in a monument near ancient Olympia, and his body buried, I believe in Laussanne, Switzerland, the home of the IOC.

The late Horst Dassler is the father of global sports marketing, and developing the power of the Olympic movement. He started with the eastern Bloc countries and moved on. While he died in 1986, the many that he mentored play major roles in the world of global sports.

The Olympics may be here thanks to the good Baron, but they are a global super sports power thanks to the insight of Horst Dassler. Contrary to what Donald Trump says, Horst Dassler developed the art of the deal. His negotiations were legendary. Dassler's value to the Olympic movement? He foresaw the rise of sports marketing, the power of sports federations and the position that a well financed Olympic sports movement could hold in modern culture. Dassler's moves at the helm of adidas showed companies like Nike, ASICS, Mizuno and others how to develop global sports marketing assets. And one of the biggest assets in the global sports marketing firmament continues to be the Olympic movement.

All I know is, in my view of heaven, Baron Pierre de Coubertin and Horst Dassler were smiling today, over tea, marveling at how, for the past week, their movement had the world's media, and billions of Olympic fans wondering, who would be the host of the thirty-first Summer Olympic Games of the modern era? And, it was Rio de Janeiro.

For more on the Olympics, please click on http://www.Olympics.com

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