Olympic Vanitas


Fortunately for Chicago, President Obama was not successful. About half of the people in Chicago did not want the Olympics in the Windy City, because the city can not afford it. Chicago has a major fiscal crisis. Private sources already spent $100 million on the failed bid. Obama’s trip to Copenhagen aboard Air Force One cost American taxpayers $900,000. The cost of hosting the Olympics runs into the billions of dollars. Historically, Olympics cost their host cities a lot of money that is not recovered from the spinoff benefits of the games.

Since there is rarely an economic benefit to hosting the Olympics, there must be other reasons why major cities vie for the honor. After one cuts through the babble of sportsmanship and international good will, the real reason is vanity. Host cities and their leaders get to dress up and show off their city to the world. For one month in the late summer every four years, the Olympic host city is the center stage of the sports world and the media covering it. Had Chicago gotten the nod from the IOC and Obama won a second term, he would have been Caesar in his home city, presiding over an international vanity fest with even more media coverage than he normally gets.

On Friday, Illinois Sen. Roland Burris (D) made it absolutely clear why the IOC did not select Chicago. According to Burris , it was President George W. Bush’s fault. President Obama has not had the time to undo the international damage to America’s reputation caused by Bush. There are a lot of fiscally conservative taxpayers in Chicago today who are secretly thanking the former president from saving their city from further fiscal distress. The Chicago political machine is now unable to use the Olympics as an excuse to reach deeper into taxpayers’ pockets to finance the machine’s vanity.


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