Rio wins 2016 Olympic Games in landslide over Madrid - 10/1/2009
Rio de Janeiro rode a wave of International Olympic Committee sentiment to award the Olympics to South America for the first time, winning the right to host the 2016 Summer Games on Friday in a landslide victory over surprising finalist Madrid.
Rio earned 66 final-round votes to Madrid's 32.
"From the bottom of my heart, I should say this is the most emotional day in my life," said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, alternating between sobs and exuberance. "Rio deserves it, and Brazil deserves it."
Chicago was considered a frontrunner along with Rio coming into the vote. But despite President Obama's participation in Friday's final presentation and Michelle Obama lobbying IOC members here the last three days for her hometown, the Second City suffered a stunning first-round exit.
Tokyo went out in the second round, leaving Madrid, which had the powerful backing of former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, as the only challenge to Rio's historical opportunity.
Samaranch, who ran the IOC from 1980-2001, offered up a heartstring-pulling argument during Madrid's presentation, saying: "I know that I am very near the end of my time. I am, as you know, 89 years old. May I ask you to consider granting my country the honor and also the duty to organize the Games and the Paralympic Games in 2016?"
Madrid's chances were hurt by the 2012 Summer Olympics (London) and 2014 Winter Olympics (Sochi, Russia) already being in Europe.
In the end, it was Rio's passionate pleas to finally include South America in the Olympic rotation that won out. Rio's victory leaves Africa and Antarctica as the only continents that have never hosted an Olympics.
"They've never had the opportunity," IOC member Willi Kaltschmitt of Guatemala said of Rio. "Now they present a very good candidature. So I think the IOC thought it was time to rotate."
When Rio bid for the 2004 and 2012 Summer Olympics, the IOC didn't name it a finalist either time. This Rio bid, bolstered by Brazil's relative financial stability throughout the global economic downturn, was the best ever to come out of South America or Africa but still could present some challenges over the next seven years.
"They were mainly strong because there was this wish of the Olympic movement to show more universality," IOC executive board member Denis Oswald said.
Rio's relatively high crime rate was an omnipresent part of the discussion over Rio's candidature, and Rio's projected expenses were the highest among the four bid cities — at more than $14 billion — because of the amount of new venues and infrastructure needed.
In addition, Rio will host the 2014 World Cup, a fact that has the IOC concerned about effects on 2016 Olympic marketing and sponsorship.
"They managed to divert attention from all the risk areas they had, as did everybody else," IOC member Dick Pound of Canada. "You have got to admire the delivery of that result."
President da Silva has very actively campaigned for the bid, even traveling to Beijing and London to consult with the Olympic organizing committees in those cities.
He said he told President Obama to attend Friday's IOC vote in Copenhagen while the two were at the recent Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh.
"If you don't," he said he told Obama, "I'm going to win."
"Then he came. But God wished that we would win even if he came."
The Rio 2016 bid team borrowed liberally on Obama's presidential campaign slogan of "Yes, we can!" At almost every presentation it made to IOC voters, the team also showed a map of the world with markings where all Olympic Games have been awarded. South America and Africa, of course, were blank.
"It's an important message to send it to a place that never had the Olympic Games," Namibian IOC member Frankie Fredericks said. "It's an important message to the rest of the world that it's possible to host the Olympic Games."