Saturday, August 01, 2015

How Brazil Got the 2016 Summer Olympics

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are too be held in Rio de Janeiro. There have been reports of terrible pollution in the waters of Guanabara Bay where some of the water sports are to take place, and of fears that the high levels of street crime may spill over to harm the games. Brazil is going through a period of drought and one of economic recession, both of which may complicate its job of hosting the games.

Recently the President of Brazil made a public announcement, seeking to minimize the dangers of holding the games in Brazil (translation mine):
Dilma mimimized the concerns with the security in the host city, where assaults and lost bullets from the crossfire between drug trafficers and police take victims every day........
Considering the climate of mistrust including corruption scandals that shake the country, Dilma drew a parallel between Brazil and the athletes who overcome adversity with hard work and effort.
The Selection Process

Rio was one of seven cities that submitted bids to host the games. The International Olympic Committee evaluated each city's offering. A grade of 6 or above was judged to be adequate to accept the bid from the city. The results of the evaluations were:

Tokyo (Japan)  8.3
Madrid (Spain)  8.1
Chicago (USA) 7.0
Doha (Qatar)  6.9
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) 6.4
Prague (Czech Republic)  5.3
Baku (Azerbaijan)  4,3

Thus the fifth ranked application, and the lowest of the applications thought to be acceptable by the International Olympic Committee's evaluation team was selected.

The actual selection was made by three rounds of voting of 98 of the 99 eligible voting country delegations. Only four countries received votes: the USA was the first rejected, then Japan, then Spain, leaving Brazil the winner.

Bloomberg reported:
The Brazilian city, which proposed investments of $11.1 billion in preparation for the games, got 66 votes in the final round today, while Madrid received 32 in balloting by the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen. Tokyo and Chicago lost in earlier rounds. 
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who led the Rio delegation, applied his strategy of promoting ties among Southern Hemisphere countries to back his bid. Lula, 63, visited eight countries since April to court developing nations’ support. U.S. President Barack Obama made an in-person pitch for Chicago, his adopted hometown, which was the first city eliminated........
Rio’s campaign was boosted by the presence in Copenhagen of Lula and Central Bank Governor Henrique Meirelles.
The Brazilian president has been promoting Rio’s bid since last year, when he traveled to Beijing for the opening of the 2008 Games. After attending the Group of 20 meeting in April in London, he was the only leader of the four bidding countries to tour the Olympic Park for the 2012 Games.
Billionaire Eike Batista made the Olympics bid part of his quest to become Brazil’s champion of infrastructure development. His EBX Brasil SA group said it donated 23 million reais ($12.8 million) to Rio’s campaign -- about a quarter of the 102 million reais that Brazil’s Olympic Committee invested in the competition with four other company donors.
Behind the Scenes

Given the scandal surrounding FIFA and international soccer, one may be excused for suspecting that the true story behind the choice of Rio de Janeiro to host the Olympic Games may be more complex than that presented by Bloomberg's report. The FIFA scandal suggests money payments might lubricate that international voting process. I don't doubt that gifts to delegates and those who instruct delegates might in some cases be used, but I suspect that diplomatic efforts invisible to the public also may play a role.

The 2014 Winter Olympics are described is follows in Wikipedia:
The lead-up to these Games was marked by several major controversies, including allegations that corruption among officials led to the aforementioned cost overruns, concerns for the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes and spectators due to the effects of recently passed legislation, protests by ethnic Circassian activists over the site of Sochi (where they believe a genocide took place), and threats by jihadist groups tied to the insurgency in the North Caucasus.
Now Bejing has been chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in spite of the fact that it has no history of snow falls, and is planning to hold the games on artificial snow.

I quote from a Wikipedia entry relative to the 2002 Winter Olympics:
The 2002 Olympic Winter Games bid scandal was a scandal involving allegations of bribery used to win the rights to host the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. Prior to its successful bid in 1995, the city had attempted four times to secure the games; failing each time. In 1998 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were accused of taking bribes from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) during the bidding process. The allegations resulted in the expulsion of several IOC members, and the adoption of new IOC rules. Legal charges were brought against the leaders of Salt Lake's bid committee by the United States Department of Justice, of which all parties were later acquitted. Investigations were also launched into prior bidding process by other cities, finding that members of the IOC received gifts during the bidding process for both the 1998 Winter Olympics and 2000 Summer Olympics.
How is it that seemingly inappropriate venues are selected for the Olympic Games? Are bribes involved, and if so, are they the major factor determining the selection? I suspect that diplomatic channels are used by governments to understand the details of each selection process (and intelligence agencies and methods?). Governments have varying degrees of influence over the voters in the final selection process, and the more coercive the government, the greater that influence my be. Do governments make deals among themselves, trading the votes that they influence?

A UNESCO Example

I closely followed the election of a new Director General for UNESCO in 2009, creating a blog to share the material I was finding. Two Brazilians were initially considered very strong candidates for the position:
  • Marcio Barbosa, the then Deputy Director General of UNESCO, who had headed the Brazilian Space Agency, and
  • Cristovam Buarque, a member of the Brazilian Senate, former Brazilian Minister of Education, with a distinguished academic career.
In fact, the Government of Brazil chose not to submit a nomination for either of these men.

It was reported that Brazil in fact supported the candidacy of the Egyptian candidate for the position. He was a long time minister in the Mubarak government, and thought to be a close associate of President Mubarak's wife. The Egyptian was the early leader in the voting, but lost due to opposition raised by a number of serious charges posted against him during the race. It was suggested that there was president-to-president contact made between Egypt and Brazil resulting in Brazil's support for the Egyptian candidate for the UNESCO job, and Egyptian support for Brazil to host the 2015 Summer Olympics. A secret diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks provides some background.

1 comment:

tonyon said...

the Evil Empire: religion, armies, monarchies and politicians...are the causers of all wars