Chicago's Anti-Olympics Faction Looks to Vancouver

Hundreds of demonstrators of all ages and races gathered in Chicago this weekend to protest a visit by the IOC's Technical Team. Police estimated that over 200 people gathered in the city's Federal Plaza to hear a series of speakers denounce Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The event was organized by No Games Chicago 2016, a network of community and activist groups in the city.

Speakers addressed Chicago's well known corruption and asked how city politicians and developers will handle the billions of dollars of Olympic spending without the money falling victim to problems that have plagued past development projects. Other speakers addressed the failing city infrastructure, school and hospital closures and demanded that money go to address these short falls rather than a "seventeen day party for the rich."

Chicago's 2010 Bid organizers have claimed that the entire cost of the Games in Chicago can be financed solely by the private sector for under $5 billion. They have not specified who the sponsors would be. In spite of a boost for Chicago's bid from President Barack Obama and TV star Oprah Winfrey, Chicago's chance for success, once considered "Chicago's to lose", is now listed as last amongst the four candidate cities for the 2016 Games according to the Games Bid website that monitors hopeful Olympic cities.

Chicago now trails competitors Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo. An online poll of almost 30,000 people by the Chicago Tribune newpaper found that 76% of those responding were against Chicago's bid.

No Games organizers led the protesters from Federal Plaza through the city's financial district to Aon Tower, the site of the Chicago Bid committee, to chants of "IOC, leave us be!" and "Hey, hey, no way, we don't want the Olympic Games". No Games Chicago spokesperson Bob Quellos called the protest a success. "We sent the IOC and Mayor Richard Daley a loud and clear message: We don't want the Olympics in Chicago when money is needed for schools and hospitals. We don't want to repeat the mistakes made by Vancouver and other Olympic sucker cities".

Protesters promised to hound the IOC for their entire six day visit. "We are going to be in their face every day", said Quellos. "When we're done the IOC will know that Chicago doesn't support the bid and that bringing the Games here won't be a good idea for them. Just as Vancouver's Olympic Resistance Network will meet the IOC in the streets in 2010, if the Games are awarded to Chicago, we'll fight it every step of the way to 2016."
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