Navigate / search

Who Should Host the 2016 Summer Olympics?

As I’ve confessed before, I’m an Olympics-news freak. So last week, I was very excited to learn which four cities cleared the first hurdle in the long-distance race to the 2016 Summer Olympics: Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. Officially, of course, I’m backing Chicago: it’s home turf for the American team, a world-class city, and close enough to New York that I can dream about attending. Unofficially, it was sweet to see Rio on the list, as I fell in love with the place earlier this year and had the privilege of chatting with one of the city’s Olympics-bid organizers on my trip there.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member ttrllvr

It was on a flight from Salvador to Rio that my seatmate heard my American accent and struck up conversation about my visit. It turned out that she used to work in Brazil’s tourism office and is now working to bring the Olympics to Rio. So while I generally try to assume my I’m-too-busy-staring-off-into-space-to-chat look on planes, my inner Olympics geek took over and I spent the remainder of the flight asking her questions about the city’s bid and its chances.

I was shocked to learn that South America has never hosted an Olympics. (Truthfully, I was shocked to learn that Rio has never hosted; I could’ve sworn I’d heard stories from Rio ’64 or another year in that era. Apparently not—those Games were actually hosted by another 2016 hopeful, Tokyo.) It seems surprising, as I associate that continent with competitive sports more than any other. And thanks to its devotion to soccer, volleyball, and other sports, Rio seems to have plenty of existing and planned venues for events. I can also imagine Brazil’s people and culture injecting a unique passion into festivities (come to think of it, I should have posed questions along those lines to the Brazilian music legend and Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil, who was, coincidentally, also on that flight).

Wherever the Olympics go that year, I’ll probably make an attempt to follow. And in the meantime, there are Beijing; Vancouver; London; and Sochi, Russia, to investigate. I’m curious though: if you had a vote, which finalist would you like to see host the Olympics in 2016? And where—out of the four upcoming hosts and four 2016 finalists—would you most like to attend the Games in person?


My name: Michelle Doucette

How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at

Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.

Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.

Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.


Eric Beato

I’ve been dreaming of a Chicago Olympics since I was a kid. It would be amazing for the city, the country and the world.

Plus, just imagine President Obama triumphantly presiding
over the Games in his hometown at the end of his second term. It truly would be a dream come true.

Sara Winterson

Rio de Janeiro deserves to win.
The US had the Olympics in 1996. Latin America deserves a first organization of the Olympics. Especially now that Brazil is shining bright over the USA doom & gloom economically wise.
Besides, the worldwide pubic opinion seems to favor Rio all the way in the bid !

Leave a comment


email* (not published)