Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

48° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Guest column: Olympic spirit comes alive in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – Olympic fever. That is the only way to describe the atmosphere in Copenhagen for the past several days. Crowds gathered early Friday in Copenhagen’s historic City Hall Square to watch each city’s bid presentation. Many were anticipating an eventful Olympic conference, especially in light of the Rio de Janeiro bid, which positioned Rio to potentially be the first South American city to host an Olympic Games.However, the International Olympic Committee vote drew greater attention when President Barack Obama himself arrived to support the 2016 bid of Chicago, his adopted-home city. Obama is still wildly popular in Europe and around the globe, although pundits and Republicans at home criticized his trip to Denmark as a vacation and a clear indication his priorities were not in the right place.Additionally, some Chicago residents were strongly against the bid. The city is in dire need of infrastructure investments, and critics claimed past Games left hosts struggling with debt and vacant lots. But Chicago was not the only candidate with drama. Madrid’s bid was considered an unlikely winner since the IOC was not expected to vote to hold an Olympics in Europe twice in a row. Beijing’s remarkable Summer Olympics may have placed Tokyo in a similarly sticky situation.With enough sub-plots for a Hollywood blockbuster, Rio seemed to be Chicago’s main competitor. An Olympics in Rio would have many tourists and athletes staying on cruise ships docked in the nearby harbor, a creative twist some considered an attempt to cover up a lack of sufficient infrastructure to handle an influx of guests. Some suggested Rio was too corrupt and crime-ridden to host an Olympic Games. Odds-makers favored Chicago, although by a slim margin. At 8:45 a.m. Friday, only one question remained unanswered: Would the president’s personal pitch be enough for Chicago to secure a victory?After the presentations were displayed on the video screen, the Committee went into a private voting, and City Hall Square turned into a giant party. Popular Danish dance group of “Barbie Girl” fame Aqua, among others, got the crowd dancing and singing in five different languages. Then came the silence. At 5:45 p.m. the emcee came out to announce only two cities were left after two rounds of voting: Rio and Madrid.The crowd, which was largely divided into four groups easily identified by the colors green, orange, red and purple, was silent in some sections and deafening in others. The Rio fans were particularly loud: They could see the games within their sights.Almost everyone wearing a fluorescent orange Chicago 2016 shirt was speechless. The shock was only further compounded by the confusion felt when it was announced Chicago was the first city eliminated in the first round of voting. Those feelings did not last long; the Olympic spirit was still very much alive. The Chicagoans in the crowd, all too familiar with defeat, picked their jaws up off the ground and surrounded a small group of raucous Brazilians. Soon the two cities and their citizens, once rivals, were together anticipating a celebration only moments away. As Rio’s victory was announced, the competition was officially over but the party had just begun. For the rest of the night, every Copenhagen club and bar was filled with Olympic supporters draped in the flags of five nations (the Danish Dannebro made a guest appearance) all celebrating the same ideal.SESP junior Scott Belsky is studying abroad in Copenhagen and can be reached at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Guest column: Olympic spirit comes alive in Copenhagen