At the end, the charm of president Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and that of TV Queen Oprah Winfrey weren't enough to convince the Olympic delegates in Copenhagen, Denmark, that Chicago should host the Olympic Games. The rhetoric and smiles of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, best-selling author Paulo Coelho and soccer legend King Pelé won the day and the 2016 Olympic Games for Rio.
Chicago, a favorite for many, ended up being the first to be eliminated among the four candidates left: Rio, Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid. Then Tokyo was told they should wait four more years. The final vote was given but the world would have to wait one more hour to know that Rio had been the chosen one. The announcement was made by the IOC president Jacques Rogge.
When fans in Rio were told in a big screen in Copacabana beach that Chicago had been eliminated the crowd of thousands started screaming and applauding anticipating Brazil's victory. The enthusiasm was even bigger when Tokyo's elimination was announced. Singer Lulu Santos, who had been singing to the crowd commented: "When Madrid finally loses, we are going to laugh at their immigration officers who bar the Brazilians."
"Our time has come", said Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Copenhagen, in his defense of Rio as the host of the Olympics before the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In his speech, Lula also stressed the good economic times Brazil is going through, talked about what the Games will means to the Brazilians self esteem and reminded that Rio's candidacy was also that of the whole South America.
"Our time has come. I has. Among the ten world largest economies, Brazil is the only country that has not hosted the Olympic and Paraolympic Games. For the others, it will be only one more Olympiad. For us, it will be a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. It will increase Brazilians' self esteem, it will consolidate recent achievements, it will stimulate new advances," he said.
In defense of Rio, Lula said that the Olympics in Brazil would correct an unbalance, since South America never hosted the Olympic Games. "This candidacy is not ours alone. It's also of a continent with almost 400 million men and women and about 180 million young people. A continent that never hosted the Olympic Games. It is about time to correct this imbalance."
Lula also stated that Brazil is living an excellent period with a consolidated economy, which tackled without trepidation the world financial crisis and gave all the possible guarantees in order to hold the Olympics. He recalled that in 2007 the Pan American Games were held in the Rio de Janeiro and they taught Brazilians how to organize the Olympic Games.
"Rio is ready. Those who give us this chance will not regret," concluded the president.
Rio had already been a candidate to host the Games in 2004 and 2014, but didn't get to the finals. In recent days, specialized sites asÂ "Game Bids" and "Around the Rings" put Rio as the favorite with slight advantage over Chicago. Last year, however, when the IOC had a pre-selection run, the Brazilian city had the worst performance among the finalists.