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Olympics-Former IOC executive criticises Chicago 2016 bid effort

CHICAGO, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Chicago’s bid leaders “totally missed the plot” ahead of the city’s shock first-round elimination in voting to pick the 2016 Summer Games host, said a former International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive.

Chicago’s early exit showed it never connected with the Olympic voters, said former IOC marketing director Michael Payne in a SportsPro magazine article released on Wednesday.

Payne was a senior strategy adviser to Rio de Janeiro which ended up being selected by IOC members as the host city in Denmark in October, winning the final round against Madrid by 66 votes to 32.

“It was a surprise to watch a ... legendary political machine so finely tuned and experienced as Chicago, who prided themselves, as no other U.S. city, on their ability to manage elections, telling people how they are going to vote before they even approach the polling station, so totally miss the plot,” Payne said in the December/January edition of the magazine.

Chicago, which had been considered the front-runner, was eliminated despite lobbying by U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.


Several IOC delegates, Chicago bid executives and analysts blamed errors by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) including a failure to build relations with delegates.

“As the 18-vote first round so clearly showed, Chicago totally failed at the very first rule of elections; they never really understood the electorate and how to communicate with them,” said Payne.

In the article Payne outlined a 10-point startegy for Rio’s victory.

“An Olympic bid is increasingly a communications campaign and in the end people will vote for who they like best, who they believe in most, who they can trust and the Olympic context that can offer them something more than just another Games,” he said.

“When the results of the vote came through, the world’s media were shocked. Shocked that Chicago had got it so wrong and gone out in the first round.

“Shocked that Rio had won by such a large margin.”

Five days after Chicago’s elimination the USOC launched a search for a new chief executive, saying acting chief Stephanie Streeter would not be a candidate.

Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Tony Jimenez. To query or comment on this story email