Influence Is Everywhere: How Rio Won the 2016 Olympics

The tools of influence are around us every day.  Who could doubt that many (if not all) of them were at work in the recent decision to award the 2016 Summer Olympic games to Rio.  As a Chicagoan for the past 30 years, how did my adopted city lose this “once in a lifetime” opportunity?

The answer is complex at some level, but obvious at others.  The bid by Rio had more credibility:

  • Rapport—during the two years running up to this decision, the Brazilian Olympic Committee was working the International Olympic Committee membership to establish relationships.  During that same time period, the head of the US Olympic Committee changed twice.  During a vote earlier this year (on more technical issues) all the other nations competing (Brazil, Spain and Japan) sent representatives, the US did not.

  • Authority—The US Olympic Committee has frequently treated the International Olympic Committee poorly, dictating terms to them whenever possible.  By flaunting their authority, many at the IOC have held a grudge.

  • Contrast—The Brazilian proposal showed well over $14 billion dollars committed to the 2016 effort; the US proposal was $6 billion.

  • Commitment / Consistency—It seemed as though all of Brazil was behind Rio's bid; It seemed as though only Chicago was behind Chicago's bid (and surveys indicated 47% of Chicagoans weren't in favor of hosting the games)

  • Scarcity—South America has never hosted an Olympic Games, the US

  • Reciprocity—for your vote, we will ... Now that's the Chicago way!

  • Prestige—We'll counter your president (Lula) and world recognized soccer icon (Pele) with our president, his wife and Oprah.  That's a wash.

  • Wealth / Power—If you think about the current economic environment and the ability to weather this global recession, the arrow for Brazil is pointing up; the US arrow is pointing down. This didn't just happen.  There was a well orchestrated and implemented PLAN by the Brazilians.  The plan of the US might have been well orchestrated, but not as well implemented.  Remember, influence just doesn't happen.  It is caused to happen.  Get in action!