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Category: Chicago 2016

Chicago 2016 moves Fasulo, a key player, where the action is

Fasulo Chicago 2016 and the U.S. Olympic Committee have moved one of the key operatives for the city's Olympic bid closer to the action, sources say.

Robert Fasulo, the USOC chief of international relations, will be spending the summer in Europe after  establishing a base near International Olympic Committee headquarters -- and several international sports headquarters -- in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The relocation makes sense, since Fasulo long worked in Europe as an aide to the late international track federation President Primo Nebiolo and director of the Assn. of Summer Olympic International Federations. He speaks English, Italian, Spanish and French.

And since about half the IOC members who will vote for the 2016 host are from Europe, being close enough to schmooze them regularly can only be helpful. Fasulo is doing just that at this week's Mediterranean Games in Pescara, Italy, where about 20 IOC members are expected to attend.

There also are major world championships (track and swimming) in Europe this summer, and the bid cities will have a presence at them.

Fasulo and his family, who now live in Newport Beach, intend to return to Southern California in the fall.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Robert Fasulo discusses the bid city process. Credit: Associated Press

IOC member Cinquanta: Chicago the favorite

Cinquanta LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Ottavio Cinquanta of Italy is unsparing in his praise of U.S. contributions to sport.

That is among the reasons why Cinquanta, an International Olympic Committee member and president of the International Skating Union, likes the Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

"To me, Chicago is the favorite,''  Cinquanta said Thursday. "Why? The dossier is excellent and, for me, yet again, it is a matter of the U.S. contribution to sport. The U.S. has given [the world] athletes, organization, television and innovation in competition.

"The candidatures are from cities, but the cities are in countries, and what Chicago's country has done for sport in general over the years is very important.''

Cinquanta said his IOC colleagues have been impressed by a change in U.S. attitude toward the world.

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A plus for Chicago: IOC-USOC dispute has calmed

LAUSANNE,  Switzerland -- Chicago's Olympic committee certainly had to feel good about one question that wasn't asked after presenting its bid plans Wednesday to International Olympic Committee members.

The ongoing revenue-sharing dispute between the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee did not come up, according to IOC member Gerhard Heiberg of Norway, who has been involved for three years in negotiations on this issue.

To Heiberg, that means the members have accepted the agreement announced in late March for a new framework to the negotiations.

"I have not had any IOC member come to me and say, 'This was not right. You should have done it differently,' '' Heiberg said Thursday. "On the contrary, they have said it is fine that this has been put off until after the [2016 host city] election on Oct. 2 so it doesn't interfere, which is what I wanted to achieve.  I haven't had anybody talking to me negatively about this.''
The fractious negotiations had become a negative for Chicago's bid.

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No Games Chicago shows up at IOC's door, bearing books

Tom LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Three delegates for No Games Chicago, a group opposed to the city's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, showed up at International Olympic Committee headquarters Tuesday evening with 50 copies of a book titled "The No Games Chicago Book of Evidence for the International Olympic Committee.''

Journalists from media outlets in Spain and Brazil helped No Games carry 50 copies of the book into the building, apparently unconcerned how that looked given that their countries have cities (Madrid and Rio de Janeiro) bidding against Chicago for the 2016 Summer Games.

IOC communications director Mark Adams told No Games delegate Tom Tresser that the IOC would accept the books, a compilation of reprinted news clippings.  Adams then took Tresser aside for a private meeting.

Adams said he assured Tresser that IOC President Jacques Rogge would get a copy of the No Games book but that it was "not very likely'' he could fulfill Tresser's two other requests: a meeting with Rogge and a chance to sit in on Chicago 2016's Wednesday presentation to the IOC members.

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More from Ryan on Ueberroth: No adversarial relationship

After seeing my earlier blog, Chicago 2016 bid Chairman Patrick Ryan wanted to clarify what he had said about Peter Ueberroth having no role in the city’s Olympic bid.

Here is what Ryan said in an e-mail late Wednesday:

"I wanted to follow up on an important item in your Blog as it relates to Peter Ueberroth. When you asked me the question, 'Does Peter have a direct role with the bid?' I answered directly and honestly that Peter does not (as he is now happily retired) but that Peter is a 'friend of the bid.'

"In terms of direct role, I assumed you meant someone who has 'specific responsibilities' at Chicago 2016, which Peter does not. I used the term 'friend of the bid' as Peter has been very helpful in utilizing his vast network of contacts to help promote our bid. Peter has been very gracious in making himself available to help share our vision for Chicago 2016 (as evidenced by his recent WBBM interview) and has been very supportive of our campaign.

"Let me be clear that Peter is someone that I have had a very good relationship for 30+ years, and have enjoyed working with him on the bid. To in any way imply that he is not welcomed at Chicago 2016, or is someone that I personally have an adversarial relationship with over the years, is just plain incorrect."

My comment: I appreciate Ryan's response, and I stand by the assertions in the earlier blog, based on several conversations with sources familiar with the situation, that 1) there had been some disagreements between Ryan and Ueberroth and that 2) Ueberroth's hard-line stance on the revenue-sharing issue had affected his relationship with Chicago 2016.

-- Philip Hersh

Ueberroth no longer has role in Chicago 2016 bid

Ueb I found myself bemused this week when a Chicago radio station hyped an exclusive interview in which former U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth assessed the city's 2016 Olympic bid chances by saying, "You are the leader.''

My reaction owed to what I had been hearing since soon after Ueberroth stepped down as USOC chairman last October:  that the man who ran the enormously successful 1984 Los Angeles Games was no longer in the loop with the Chicago bid team, even though a significant role in the bid was to be part of Ueberroth's portfolio after his term as chairman ended.

And Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan confirmed my information when I asked him about Ueberroth during an interview this morning about the city's presentation to several dozen International Olympic Committee members next week in Lausanne, Switzerland.

My first question about Ueberroth was, "What role, if any, does Peter Ueberroth still have?''  Ryan answered that with a deft sidestep by noting that Ueberroth is honorary USOC chairman and "a friend of the bid.''

But when I asked next whether Ueberroth was still playing "a direct role in any way,'' Ryan did not equivocate. "No,'' Ryan said.

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Weightlifting officials laud Chicago event organization

Weight So far, the visitors are impressed with the way Chicago is handling the Pan American Weighlifting Championships.

 "I'm very pleased,'' said Luis Zambrano, president of the Ecuador Weightlifting Federation and treasurer of the Pan American Weightlifting Federation, on Thursday. "We believed Chicago had the capacity to organize this event very well, and what we are seeing is an excellent organization.''

This is believed to be the largest Pan Am weightlifting championships ever in terms of numbers of countries (21) and athletes (267).

"And it is the best Pan American Championships ever in terms of organization,'' Zambrano said.
Antonio Urso of Italy, president of the European Weightlifting Federation, seconded that opinion.
"The organization is top-flight, which doesn't surprise me,'' Urso said. "Surely, this will be good for Chicago's [2016] Olympic bid.''

Why? One clear reason is the nice setup for the athletes at these 3-in-1 championships, where Pan Am, U.S. and Ibero-American titles are being contested simultaneously. The University of Illinois-Chicago Forum has turned out to be a perfect venue for the event. Officials at event organizer World Sport Chicago, the child of Chicago's 2016 bid, first thought about putting the competition at the proposed 2016 weightlifting venue -- Arie Crown Theater. But someone wisely realized that however many fans did show up, free tickets notwithstanding, would be lost in the 4,250-seat theater and chose the UIC Forum instead because it could be subdivided into smaller halls. There are about 900 seats in the competition space.

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USOC chief says ex-Bush spokesman not tied to Chicago bid


On Memorial Day, an e-mail hit the BlackBerry with a link to a Sports Business Journal scoop about the U.S. Olympic Committee having hired Ari Fleischer as a communications consultant.

Given that the news break came on a holiday, I waited a day for the USOC to make a formal announcement of the Fleischer situation.

When none arrived by last Wednesday, my reporter’s skepticism kicked in, and I immediately began to wonder if the USOC was using its new corporate mindset and trying to keep Fleischer’s role quiet. After all, Fleischer does come with Olympic movement baggage -- links to a presidential administration whose policies drew wide dismay, disdain and outright disgust around the world.

Fleischer not only spent some 2 1/2 years -- January 2001 to July 2003 -- as George W. Bush’s press secretary, but he later was implicated in the investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame by Scooter Libby, chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

On the surface, that would make Fleischer potentially radioactive to a Chicago 2016 Olympic bid relying on both President Barack Obama’s support and his global image as the anti-Bush to help win over the International Olympic Committee on Chicago’s behalf. (The USOC badly needs another Olympics in the United States to assure its financial well-being beyond 2012.)

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Chicago 2016 can crow (sort of) over city rankings


Chicago isn't near the top of the list, but it did beat two of its 2016 Olympic rivals in the 2009 global city rankings issued Tuesday by Mercer, a global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services.

Tokyo, fourth finalist for the 2016 Summer Games, was well ahead of the 2016 competition in both quality of life and infrastructure.

Rio de Janeiro, which the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission is visiting this week, was far down the list of the 215 cities ranked.

Tokyo was 35th in quality of life; Chicago tied for 44th, Madrid 48th, and Rio 117th.

And Tokyo was a runaway leader in infrastructure: 12th to 28th for Chicago, 43rd for Madrid and 100th for Rio.

The point differences in the quality of life index among Tokyo (102.2), Chicago (100.3) and Madrid (100.2) were negligible, but Rio (74.4) was clearly outclassed.

Mercer's city with the best quality of life?  Vienna.  Worst?  Baghdad.  Best infrastructure?  Singapore.  Worst?  Baghdad.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Chicago looked pretty for the IOC evaluation commission (see Olympic logo on building at left) but Tokyo's picture was better in city rankings. Credit: M. Spencer Green / Associated Press

Tokyo 2016 can only wish its governor would go away


The governor problem.

It could have haunted Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics had Rod Blagojevich not been impeached after his arrest on political corruption charges last December.

It is haunting Tokyo's bid because the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, once again stirred up enmity with his words at a Thursday news conference, which took place during the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission's visit to the Japanese capital.

No wonder, as my colleague Ed Hula reported in Around the Rings (aroundtherings.com), Tokyo bid officials tried to prevent Ishihara from answering a question about Korean feelings that the IOC should reject Tokyo because of comments the governor previously had made about Japan's 35-year subjugation of Korea and other historically sensitive subjects.

I pointed out those feelings in a blog this week.  A Western journalist raised them in the opening question
of the Thursday news conference.

Hula, on the scene in Tokyo, sent me this transcription, from the official translation, of what Ishihara answered:

             I never said that governing Korea was all correct.  I never said that.  But it's a matter of comparison.  European developed counties had some colonies in Asia.  And compared to the governance of those colonies, in comparison to what they did, Japanese governance was gentle and fair and equitable.  And I heard this comment directly from (Korean) President Park, so I commented on this once.
I will leave it to Koreans to decide whether the Japanese rule was "gentle and fair and equitable.''  And there is no doubt European countries oppressed and abused (and worse) many of their colonial populations.

But history records brutal Japanese repression of Korean liberation movements; confiscation of Korean land; and forced conscription of Korean men for Japan's army and of Koreans as laborers in Japan.
There is an Olympic component to that history as well.

A Korean, Sohn Kee-chung, was forced to take a Japanese name, Son Kitei, and run in Japan's colors when he won the 1936 Olympic marathon in Berlin.  (In 1948, Sohn carried the newly independent Korea's flag in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics; in 1988, he was among the final torch bearers in the opening ceremony of the Seoul Olympics.)

Gov. Ishihara long has been known as an ultranationalist.  In his 1989 book,  "The Japan that Can't Say No,'' Ishihira called the 1937 Rape of Nanking (China) a fabrication, even though evidence shows Japanese troops killed tens of thousands of Chinese in what has been called "The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.''

The New York Times reported that in a 2000 speech, Ishihara referred to immigrants as sangokujin,  a derogatory term used in Japan after World War II to tell Korean and Japanese residents to leave. Ishihara said such residents were likely to riot after a major earthquake and that, according to the story, "atrocious crimes have been committed again and again by sangokujin and other foreigners.''

Such comments don't exactly jibe with the ideals espoused by the Olympic movement.  They also refuel longstanding enmity toward Japan in Asian countries, like South Korea and China, that remain upset by  Japan's incomplete acceptance of responsibility for its actions in World War II (and, in North and South Korea's case, after imperialist Japan annexed the Korea peninsula in 1910). 

A recent revival of nationalism in Japan -- as exemplified by statements like Ishihara's -- has exacerbated the animosity.  No wonder the Tokyo bid worries about getting little support from IOC members in other Asian countries.

Yet Tokyo 2016 officials committee trumpet the role Ishihara is playing in their bid, sending out a news release this week emphasizing the "major role'' the governor was to have during the evaluation commission visit.

Even if the IOC visitors were not immediately aware that the governor had done something major Thursday -- a big misstep -- there is no doubt his words would quickly resonate around the world.

So the bid committee was left scrambling to minimize the impact of Ishihara's latest gaffe.  It issued a statement saying, "Governor Ishihara is deeply committed to the long-term benefits of the Olympic Games. This includes the principles of peace, harmony and friendship through the region.''

But, as Hula noted in a Thursday dispatch from Tokyo, the statement did not address what Ishihara said abut Korea.

Nor, may I add, did it address his swipe at Europe, which has nearly half the IOC members who will vote Oct. 2 for the 2016 host.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara welcoming media covering the IOC evaluation commission visit Wednesday.  At a news conference a day later, his words weren't as welcoming to the world.  Credit: Tokyo 2016


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