As conservatives continue to gleefully hurl javelins Barack Obama’s way for his failed bid to even get his adopted hometown of Chicago on the podium for the 2016 Summer Olympics, it’s worth noting Colorado had a viable Plan B that U.S. organizers rejected earlier this year.
Denver sports organizers and winter sports heavyweights in places like Vail wanted to make a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but the Colorado Springs-based United States Olympic Committee – apparently unable to walk and chew gum at the same time – decided to focus fully on Chicago. The Windy City finished a distant fourth to Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
The White House continues to do damage control Monday, issuing statements to the effect that the political risks to the president of a trip to Copenhagen Friday were deemed acceptable given Chicago’s viability. In other words, “We thought for sure we’d get it just because Obama isn’t W.” But apparently there’s still a lingering hangover from the Guantanamo administration (which, by the way, still isn’t closed).
The funny thing is to hear El Rushbo and other conservative venom-spewers characterize the Olympics as an international exercise in soul-selling cronyism replete with a punishing tax burden when it’s Obama doing the backing. But the scandal-plagued 2002 Mormon Games in Salt Lake City presided over by Mitt Romney were just the post-9/11 antidote we all needed.
Sports organizers in places like Vail, where they’ve been putting on World Cup ski races for decades, swear there was no lingering anti-Americanism in their failed bid for the 2013 World Alpine Ski Championships last year. But then they went on to say the world was likely closely watching the 2008 election for purposes of awarding future international sporting events. Guess the IOC didn’t get the memo.
Of course, Colorado has a dubious history of politicizing the Olympic Games. Then state legislator Richard Lamm, a Democrat who went on serve as governor, punched his gubernatorial ticket by leading an anti-Winter Games campaign after the IOC had awarded Denver the 1976 Olympics.
Voters made Denver the only city to ever be awarded and then reject the modern Olympics, and the entire campaign was based on an unacceptable tax burden and potential environmental devastation. All that resort growth happened anyway, and some were looking to a 2018 bid to provide even more federal stimulus for fixing gridlocked mountain highways like I-70.
Hard to say if times have changed enough for a successful 2018 bid, but it sure would have been a nice backup plan. Now Colorado will have to wait until at least 2022 … and who knows who’ll be in the White House by then, or whether it will matter.