WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chicago was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee on Saturday to be the U.S. candidate to host the 2016 Summer Games.
The third most-populous U.S. city beat rival Los Angeles in a “very, very close” vote, USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth said after opening a sealed envelope and announcing the selection.
The International Olympic Committee will make its final decision which city will host the 2016 Summer Games in October 2009. Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Madrid, New Delhi and Qatar among others have voiced interest in joining the fray.
Chicago’s enthusiasm for hosting the games made it stand out during the selection process, Ueberroth said.
“All of a sudden this area of the country kind of awakened to the Olympic movement and stepped forward so aggressively,” he said. “They caught everybody’s attention early.”
Members of Chicago’s delegation leaped to their feet and burst into cheers after the announcement. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said he jumped out of his chair “like a little kid watching the Olympics,” when the city’s name was read.
The bid presents “a great opportunity for us as we move forward to really sell Chicago and America,” Daley said.
Chicago has never hosted the Olympics.
The city presented plans for a stripped-down $366 million Olympic Stadium to be built in a South Side park, and a $1.1 billion Olympic village to go up along Chicago’s lakefront, where most of the athletes would stay.
“Personally, I love the idea of the athletes on the lakefront. I don’t think that’s ever happened, and that could be great. Let’s hope Chicago gets the opportunity,” Ueberroth said.
Losing candidate Los Angeles hosted the Summer Games in 1984, a well-run affair organized by Ueberroth that managed to become the first Olympics to turn a profit.
Twelve years later, Atlanta played host to the Summer Games and in 2002 Salt Lake City received the nod for the Winter Olympics.
But after three successes in just 18 years, the United States has been shut out since. New York lost out to London for the 2012 Olympics. “We lost our pace over the years, and we think now is the time we can host the athletes of the world again,” Ueberroth said.
The deadline for the USOC to formally submit Chicago as its nomination is September 15.