A sailboat in Monroe Harbor flies its Olympic protest
flag in front of the Columbia Yacht Club (S O Shore)
It may go down as the quip that saved a thousand ships. When President Obama poked fun at his bowling abilities on the Tonight Show by saying, "It was like the Special Olympics," he may have cost the city of Chicago its 2016 Olympic bid. Which would please Chicago boaters immensely.
Chicago boaters, especially those from Monroe and DuSable Harbors, have been in an outrage ever since the Chicago 2016 Committee announced its plan to hold the rowing competitions in their harbors. The plan would remove all 1500 moorings and slips, as well as the Columbia Yacht Club, from the beloved downtown harbors for at least three years.
Columbia Yacht Club members issued a protest in the form of a flag with the battle cry, "Don't Give Up the Ship!" -- a replica of the colors flown by American warships during the War of 1812. The Chicago Yachting Association has met with Mayor Daley and presented their own plan for Olympic rowing that would permit the recreational boaters to remain. The battle cry has thus fallen on deaf ears, however, and the original plan stands.
Things are looking up for downtown recreational boaters, however. The Paralympics and the Olympics are a package deal, and those on the International Olympic Committee may be hesitant to grant the Paralympics to a city which is home to a world leader whom appears to be insensitive to athletes with disabilities. The Paralympics and the Special Olympics are two distinct organizations, the former focusing on athletes with physical disabilities, and the latter on intellectual disabilities. Mr. Obama has already shown contrition and begun damage control with the Special Olympics. Yet we won't know until October--when the IOC announces the 2016 host city--how much offense the International Paralympic Committee has taken...or if they've forgiven Mr. Obama.