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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Brazil's enthusiasm makes Rio more deserving of the games

When Jacques Rogge announced Rio de Janeiro as the host city of the 2016 Olympics, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva burst into tears. President Obama was on his flight back to D.C. And you, were in shock.

Well, there are probably a thousand reasons to support the Windy City. Chicago was in good shape throughout the two-year bidding marathon. Granted, America has hosted the most summer games among all countries, totaling four. But the last time it favored the Midwest was in 1904 with St. Louis. Most of all, Chicago, as the Olympic Judo Medalist Bob Berland claimed, is ""the heart of America."" Now, let it be the heart of the world.

That was the theme of Chicago's bid campaign. In its video promo, you learn about the city's glorious past along the banks of the river and its promising future of Millennium Park. The metropolis was eager to present its signature skyline to every passerby. But amid the glamour of Chicago, you lose track of the real message it should have conveyed. Yes, Chicago is a wonderful city for tourism. But which candidate city isn't? Take two minutes to watch Rio's promo. The moment you tune in, you'll be captivated by the ""marvelous city"" and its passion for life. Tapping your feet in time to the music, you find yourself synchronized with Rio's racing pulses. Passion defines the national character of Brazilians.

Even low-income families would squeeze out a few meals every day for four years, just to make that holy trip to the World Cup. This time, in the bid for Olympic Games, Rio's fervor reaps the world's favor.

As Rio de Janeiro wins the 2016 bid, an eighty-year-old Brazilian Olympic dream has come true. The city started bidding for the Olympics in 1936. This commitment to 2016 was already their fourth attempt. In comparison, Chicago hadn't given serious thought about hosting the Olympics until 2007.

When news of failure swept through Millennium Park, we saw people open their mouths in disbelief. But the disappointed crowd represents only part of Chicago's opinion. Shortly before IOC's voting, a Chicago Tribune-WGN poll showed that barely half of Chicago residents supported the games, compared with other candidate cities' eighty percent support. For many citizens hurt by the economy, the Olympics obviously weren't one of their priorities. Given a lack of updated venues, Chicago would have to shoulder a huge financial burden if selected.

Even though competition for hosting the Olympics has hardly cooled off in recent years, the games themselves aren't a cash cow at all. Although in the 1996 Atlanta games, Peter Ueberroth saved the Olympics with commercialism, host cities still find themselves in financial struggles after the event. For a developing powerhouse like Brazil, the Olympic Games carry much more significance than mere box office sales. Besides Copacabana and the slums, the country remains largely unknown to the rest of the world. The Olympics' premiere in South America will not just greatly boost the national pride of Brazilians, but update Brazil's international image as well. For people from Rio, the Olympics simply mean more.

On hearing of Chicago's loss, most supporters switched to another channel swiftly. Some went on to accuse IOC of carrying a bias. They argue that anti-American sentiment killed Chicago's bid. But for some IOC members it is the American patriotism that could make them feel uncomfortable. When Obama said ""we know how to put out big events,"" he probably meant nothing other than promoting Chicago as a candidate city. But the stress on ""we"" may make it sound different to IOC members: Are you saying other cities don't know how to do that? John Miller, a former Republican representative simply commented on the bid: ""Nobody likes us? Who cares?""

Miller could readily turn off his TV and start humming ""tomorrow is another day."" But as a country eager for international recognition, Brazil couldn't wait more. From lagging behind Doha to overwhelmingly winning the bid, the country elegantly demonstrated its potential and will of progress. Right after the news hit Brazil, people began to shower themselves in tears of happiness. And as Brazilian as it sounds, another Rio carnival came in advance.

Congratulations, Rio! See you in 2016!

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Qi Gu is a junior majoring in journalism. Please send responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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