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Published:October 5th, 2009 14:04 EST
Obama's Post-Olympic Blues:Blame It on Rio

Obama's Post-Olympic Blues:Blame It on Rio

By Geoff Dean

 To be honest, I would have been pretty happy with an Olympic Games in 2016 in Chicago or Tokyo. I live in Tokyo and most of the Olympic complex which remains from the 1964 hosting is a fifteen minute train ride from my house. No need to worry about crowded hotels and/or jacked up airfares. My former hometown is Indianapolis which means I pass through Chicago`s O`Hare Airport once in every year or two. I could easily attend some Olympic events from my Indianapolis homestead, again without the previously mentioned hassles.

 I got to witness first hand a bit of the excitement of the two cities, which in the case of Tokyo, was not much. While there were posters on every street corner, declaring that Tokyo was ready to host the games, most people I talked to, namely students at my language school, said that a)Tokyo had already hosted an Olympics, b)it would cost a lot of money that Tokyo didn`t have, and in some cases, c)we`d rather travel to an Olympics abroad than have it so close to home.

 The people  I met in Chicago and Naptown (not exactly a Chicago suburb, I admit) were more enthusiastic about the idea. The airport loudspeakers repeated over and over that Chicago hoped to host the Olympics (not very pleasant, when you have a three-hour layover). Still, there was a palpable enthusiasm that was lacking in Tokyo.

 Some in the media have criticized President Obama`s intervention in the selection process as a)beneath the dignity of the President, b)the latest example of taking on too much at once, c)his inability to "close the deal", d)the latest proof of the limits of his "star power", and e)some other stuff. Interestingly, the newspapers in Japan, at least, some of the more tabloidy ones, have similarly lambasted newly minted Prime Minister Hatoyama`s lackluster performance and failure to make the final two, although I`m not sure how coming in second could be viewed as more of a success than third or fourth.

 While my purpose is not to defend President Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama, I think that the critics are missing the point. Chicago and Tokyo did not lose; Rio de Janeiro won. Brazil pulled out all the stops. President De Silva was there; national icon, soccer hero Pele was, too. Japan has hosted the Olympics thrice (including one in Tokyo), Spain has held one fairly recently, America has hosted more than any other nation. Not just Brazil, but South America as a whole, has never hosted an Olympics before. The Olympics served as a coming out party for many nations, Japan, Korea, and perhaps, China, among others. It may now do the same for emerging economic power Brazil. Wonderful!

 I know that it must have been disappointing for President Obama to see his hometown lose, but he handled it with grace, as usual. In fact, this might be an opportunity for the US to show some class and magnamity to a region that, of late, hasn`t been particularly fond of their northern neighbors. Either way, if some success comes out of negotiations with Iran or on health care or climate change, I doubt too many people will be harping on "losing the Olympics".

 In many places in Tokyo, the posters declaring support for hosting the Olympics have not been taken down yet. It takes time for wounds to heal, disappointments to fade, broken hearts and dreams to mend. But, after all, isn`t that what sports are all about? The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat? Let`s have some class and good sportsmanship and wish the Brazilians an excellent (and well-deserved) Olympics in 2016!