South America will host the Summer Olympic Games for the first time in 2016, as Rio De Janeiro, Brazil was awarded the honor on Friday. Rio beat out the US choice of Chicago, Illinois along with Tokyo, Japan and Madrid, Spain to earn the right to host the games. Despite a high pressure effort from the American power elite–including President Barack Obama and TV gabfest queen Oprah Winfrey–Chicago was the first city eliminated from contention. Tokyo was the next to go, before Rio got the nod over Madrid in the final round of balloting.
Bookmakers offered odds on the host city choice, with Rio listed as second favorite at +200. Chicago had been the wagering favorite at most books, particularly after President Obama got involved personally in the US bid effort. Chicago was bet as high as a -300 favorite, while Madrid and Tokyo were priced in the +250 range. Some suggest that Tokyo didnt deserve to have such short odds, but was the beneficiary of regional pride from the notoriously enthusiastic betting population of Japan.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, got the better of his US counterpart with a passionate speech that stood in marked contrast to Obamas typically baleful collection of talking points;
“It is a time to address this imbalance. It is time to light the Olympic cauldron in a tropical country.”
The Olympic committee was apparently swayed by this presentation and paid no mind to Rios many downsides. It is without a doubt the most dangerous of the finalist cities, where drug cartels and armed bands of thugs roam without impunity. Well do to Rio citizens are used to removing watches and jewelry before they drive anywhere lest they be targeted by carjacking brigands. Rios murder rate is also one of the highest in the world. Brazilian bid officials have stressed that security will be a priority at the games and it better be lest the Olympics turn into a bloodbath. For the time being, however, the mood in Rio was one of celebration with over 50,000 residents dancing and partying in the streets.
Some IOC members suggested that the summary dismissal of Chicagos bid was more of a rebuke of the notoriously corrupt USOC. The last two Olympics held in the US were tainted by crime and corruption. The’96 Atlanta Olympics were disrupted by a terrorist bombing, while the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games were marred by a well known bribery and corruption scandal. Some suggested that US President Obama’s quick and perfunctory visit was taken as more of an insult by the delegates than anything else.
Ross Everett is a freelance writer and noted authority on bookmaking software. His writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sportsbooks and price per head sites. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with three Jack Russell Terriers and a kangaroo. He is currently working on an autobiography of former energy secretary Donald Hodell.