Maybe Pele's appearance in Copenhagen put Brazil over the top, but Rio de Janeiro has beaten out Chicago (first to be eliminated), Tokyo, and Madrid. If securing the games for Chicago would have given President Obama any boost in the U.S., the decision certainly gives one to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will bring South America its first-ever Olympic games, returning home as a sort of folk hero from the international stage.
"For the others it will be just one more Games. For us it will be an unparalleled opportunity," da Silva told the committee in his pitch.
Given that the Olympics have never been held on the continent, and that 31 percent of Brazilians live below the poverty line (vs. about 13 percent in the U.S., meaning Brazil could use the economic influx), I've sort of been pulling for Rio in this. Salt Lake had the Winter Games in 2002, after all.
I can't decide if that's unpatriotic. Is pulling for Rio the same as wanting Obama to fail? Where is Rush Limbaugh when I need him.
There are plenty of people in Chicago who could use the boost, too, and if getting the Olympics would have empowered Obama internationally, then perhaps an opportunity was missed. Not that Chicago 2016 would have meant an automatic wave of sanctions against Iran, but still. A Chicago Olympics would have energized the greater Midwest, hit hard by the recession (and the nation's "coastal elites" would finally have to acknowledge that a world-class city exists in what they deem--I shudder to repeat the phrase--"flyover country." People in DC and New York would have watched on TV and said, "Wow, Chicago is cool...you really come from an awesome part of the country, Chris." And I would have said, "Yes, you're right. I'm so sick of flying over Boston to get there").
But I guess I now have a weekend to plumb the moral fallout of passively rooting against the president.