September 3, 2009 1:19 am

IOC questions Chicago’s Olympic bid

The International Olympic Committee has raised doubts about the financing of the 2016 Olympics bid by Chicago, the frontrunner among the four cities competing to host the games.

A month before the IOC meets in Copenhagen to choose the host city for the 2016 games, a technical analysis of the bids expres­ses concern that Chicago has failed to provide a blanket guarantee to cover any financial shortfall in its $4.8bn (€3.4bn, £3bn) budget.

The IOC’s concerns come a week after it gave Vancouver an unprecedented undertaking of financial help if the host city of next year’s winter Olympics runs up a deficit because of the recession’s impact on corporate sponsorship.

Describing the Chicago budget as “ambitious but achievable”, the IOC’s evaluation commission said the city “has not provided a full guarantee covering a potential economic shortfall”.

The commission said its proposal of a capped guarantee of $750m presents “a risk for the IOC” and made clear the IOC would not budge on its demand for a full guarantee.

The commission’s report will be looked at closely by the 106 IOC members before their meeting on October 2 to choose between Chicago, Rio, Tokyo and Madrid.

None of the cities emerged unblemished from the commission report. Although Tokyo has full financial guarantees, it has relatively low public support, while some venues that the city claimed existed have yet to be built. Madrid fell short in its administration plans, while Rio was the least geographically compact bid and had a shortage of hotel rooms.

Chicago also had to contend with criticism of its transport and reliance on “temporary or scaled-down venues” and even its meteo­rological shortcomings.

But Chicago’s rivals have to contend with the prospect of President Barack Obama turning up at Copenhagen to give his home city’s bid his personal stamp, although no decision has been taken by the White House.

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