A lot has been said in the news about the bids for the 2016 Olympics in Copenhagen, Denmark – about the presence of both the President and First Lady of the United States; about the relevance of an American bid for the Olympics and so on.
Michelle Obama flew to Copenhagen to open talks with the International Olympic Committee, and was joined on Friday by the President. This act has made him the first president in US history to make a bid to the IOC – he isn’t, however, the first head of government to do so.
Former British PM Tony Blair and wife Cherie went to Singapore to make a bid for the London 2012 Summer Games and Former Russian president Vladimir Putin won a bid in Guatemala for Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
President Obama and his wife were joined by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan and Spain’s King Juan Carlos. The presence of all these heads of government is an indicator of how vital the opportunity to host the Games is.
The prestige it brings to the hosting city is second to none – not to mention the revenue generated by a spike in tourism. More jobs will be created; infrastructure is improved in anticipation of the Games; and investments in the domestic economy are not to be laughed at.
Brazil put forth a bid for $2.8 billion on operation costs and over $14 billion on construction and security. With this amount of money being spent on rebuilding the city and making improvements before the Game, a lot of it will spill over to the general population, fueling levels of prosperity.
Beating Madrid in the final round (Tokyo and Chicago lost out in the first rounds), Brazil will be the first South American country to host the Olympics, winning a majority of 95 votes.
The joyous atmosphere as the results were announced was truly remarkable. The Brazilian delegation waved their national flag and hugged each other before bursting into song. BBC correspondent Gary Duffy described the atmosphere on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro as “absolute, unrestrained joy” – locals have described it as a truly Brazilian celebration.
President da Silva was barely able to contain his joy when he announced to the press: “The world has recognised that the time has come for Brazil…The other countries made proposals. We presented a heart and a soul. I confess to you if I die right now my life would have been worth it.”
That sentiment is understandable – Athens was a city transformed after it won its bid to host the 2004 Olympics. Costing over €7 billion, the city built several new stadiums and buildings specifically for the event. The ring road around the city was rebuilt; metro and tram lines were extended and improved; and a new Athens Tram and Light Rail was also constructed, connecting all areas of the city for the first time. Profits made on the Games were also significant – NBC reportedly spent over $780 million to secure US broadcasting rights.
The benefits to the Brazilian economy will be truly gargantuan, not to mention the prestige and honour associated with hosting the Olympics. The world’s attention will be on Rio, as the finest sportsmen and women compete in an age-old tradition of sporting excellence. Here is Brazil’s promotional video – it’ll give you a sense of what it means to the man on the street to be given this opportunity.