Nightly News   |  October 02, 2009

Chicago sings the blues

Oct. 2: A party for the 2016 Olympics in Chicago turned into a wake Friday when it became clear that not even President Barack Obama could bring the games to his hometown. NBC's Lester Holt reports.

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>>> news" begins now.

>>> good evening. they gathered in public spaces and gathered around tvs in chicago today because the folks who really wanted the olympics to come to town in 2016 really liked their chances. after all, the president of the united states followed the recent custom of other world leaders , flying to europe, personally getting involved to bring the olympics to his hometown. then the agony of defeat. chicago lost in the first round. the games will go to rio . there's sadness tonight in chicago . we begin there with our own lester holt . lester, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening. down the stretch, polls found chicagoans divided whether they wanted the olympics here in chicago . everyone from the president to oprah winfrey making the case. folks on either side were shocked the city's bid went down so quickly. after a pitch to host the first ever south american olympic games , rio de janeiro 's victory was far from a shock. but the early round loser was.

>> the city of chicago , having obtained the least number of votes will not participate in the next round.

>> reporter: a collective gasp was heard on chicago 's daily plaza as thousands who thought they would be celebrating a victory learned chicago came in last, behind rio , madrid and tokyo.

>> for it to be over that quickly, that stunningly fast, it's heart breaking.

>> i'm surprised and i'm very disappointed.

>> it was going to bring a lot of work and construction and jobs.

>> i don't feel good about it.

>> reporter: president obama faced backlash to make a last minute trip to copenhagen was in air when he got word of the loss.

>> one of the things that's most valuable about sports is you can play a great game and still not win.

>> reporter: chicago 's celebrity backed presentation of the $4.8 billion vision of a lake front olympics had been given high marks. some long-time olympic observers say the rejection may not have been over merits, but between the u.s. and international olympic committees.

>> chicago is collateral damage. the fight is between the international olympic committee and the united states olympic committee . they are in disputes over money.

>> reporter: unlike rio de janeiro where thousands celebrated today, public support for the chicago games was tepid. a recent poll found less than half of chicagoans were in favor of their city hosting the games.

>> whether you are for or against the games, you want a better chicago . i think no games had a different vision of what that was.

>> reporter: those deeply familiar with rio de janeiro 's proposal said geography was on its side.

>> i think it's not just rio , it's all of south america . the single biggest reason they won in their very passionate layout of their plan. they did the most unbelievable job --

>> reporter: tonight, as rio 's speech party is just beginning, chicagoans are talking about the party that never was. mean tichl, the white house is dismissing republican complaint that is the president shouldn't have made the trip. there was more important business here at home. david axelrod said the only thing the president missed was a good night's sleep.

>> lester holt starting us off in chicago tonight , thanks.

>>> now, a word about the