Chicago Olympics Bid Questioned

With more than 3 million residents, Chicago is bustling. A big-shouldered metropolis where it's felt the summer Olympics would be right at home, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

"We know that we have an opportunity to really showcase Chicago," said Mayor Richard Daley. "We know we can deliver a spectacular Olympic and Paralympics games."

Chicago has a lot going for it - the President of the United States is its chief cheerleader. Lake Michigan is its breath-taking backdrop, and many Olympic venues here are already built. No wonder boosters argue that the games and Chicago will be good for each other.

"We're talking about creating jobs," said Arnold Randall, the director of the Neighborhood Legacy for Chicago. "We're talking about all sorts of opportunities for local residents. Now is exactly the time to want to do something like this."

Chicago understandably is showing its best side to the International Olympic Committee. But there are other less attractive points to be made about the town.

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Chicago has a chronic problem with violence, especially teen violence. And while its murder rate is still half of Rio de Janeiro's, it is well ahead of Madrid or Tokyo, the other Olympic competitors.

Thirty-four public school students were murdered here in the last year - four have been killed this month. And just last week, came a beating death of a 16-year-old honor student on the South Side, murdered apparently because he refused to join a gang.

"Our president and our mayor and our governor is over in Copenhagen - in Denmark - when right here we got savagery going on in the streets of Chicago," said Shawn Gaudin, a concerned parent in Chicago.

Critics ask how Chicago can even begin to think about hosting a $4.8 billion event when it is currently running a $300 million deficit and has had to close down city hall for a day just to save money. They question the city's priorities.

"The state and city were able to find money for Olympics but when it came to actual basic services to make peoples' lives better, there's no money to be found," said Bob Quellos, the president of No Games Chicago.

Others are skeptical about the plan to privately finance the games, one that could always get more expensive as many projects here do.

"You throw in the Chicago way, which says something between cost overruns, corruption, political connections and you're just asking for trouble," said Allen Sanderson, with the economics department at the University of Chicago.

Still, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City staged successful games that made money and benefitted their communities. Those who would bring the Olympic Games here believe Chicago can do at least as well.
  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.

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