As I am typing this, The Bella Conference Center in Copenhagen, Denmark is filled with anticipation. Delegations from Madrid, Chicago, Tokyo, and Rio are in the process of trying to woo IOC board member into awarding their city the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The cities have pulled out all the stops by bringing some big names into the ring with them: Oprah, Obama, Pele, Ronaldo, and many more.
Going into today, Chicago has been named the odds on favorite, with Rio being a close second. Experts say Madrid is too close to London (Host of the 2012 games), and Toyko is too close to Beijing (Host of the 2008 games). 2016 will mark 20 years since the last Summer games in North America (Atlanta), but recent public polls show that only 45% of Chicago residents want the games to come to their city. Rio’s two biggest strengths are that 90% of their residents want the games and there have never been an Olympic Games held in South America. Regardless, both cities will be attractive to American Broadcasters.
Shortly after a winner is announced in Copenhagen, American Broadcasters will start bidding for the rights to air the 2014 Winter Games (Sochi, Russia. Not very attractive) and 2016 Summer Games (Very attractive, especially if Chicago or Rio wins). The last bidding took place in 2003 when NBC won the right to air the 2010 and 2012 games. At the time of the bid, neither location had been selected. That year, NBC wound up paying $820 Million for the 2010 Games (later awarded to Vancouver) and $1.18 BILLION for the 2012 Games (later awarded to London).
NBC and Fox are expected to bid for these games, however, the dark horse, and maybe even the favorite depending on who you ask, is ESPN. The evil empire has incredibly deep pockets due to fact they collect subscription fees on top of ad revenue. (almost $5/mo per subscriber between all their networks, so we are talking over $400MM/mo before ad revenue) NBC and Fox don’t have such luxuries. With a local Olympics the rights fee will be ludicrously high. But on the other hand, Rio is only one hour ahead of NY, so that also works for the American public.
Needless to say, I am very excited today. And this doesn’t even factor in the Comcast/NBC rumors that have been floating around… Coverage starts on Universal Sports at 10:00AM ET
UPDATE: Chicago was eliminated in the first vote. Apparently this was a concern from the beginning. The IOC members tend to vote for their home continent in the first round regardless of who they think have a better bid. The final decision is between Madrid (Home of former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch) and Rio.
UPDATE TWO: RIO WINS!