By Duncan Mackay

September 4 - Chicago has claimed that they have a lot more support for their bid to stage the 2016 Olympics than a poll taken in a local newspaper found and that it will not affect their campaign.

The Chicago Tribune reported nearly as many city residents opposed the Olympic plans, 45 percent, as support them, 47 percent, with many of them fearing that the local taxpayer would end up having to cover any financial shortfall.

But Chicago officials claimed that the poll, which was done last Monday (August 27), is not representative of other independent surveys and that it was taken at a time when there remained question-marks over the city's financing plans to pay for the Olympics.

Patrick Sandusky, a Chicago 2016 spokesman, told insidethegames: "This poll was taken at a time when, for some in Chicago, there were still questions about the degree to which taxpayers would be protected should there be a financial shortfall. 

"In the days since this poll was conducted, those questions have been answered and those concerns have been alleviated."

Chicago's failure to sign the Host City contract, which will protect the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from any financial losses, was criticised in the Evaluation Commission's Report published yesterday but the City Council is expected to vote in a deal next week which will allow the Mayor Richard Daley to sign it if Chicago is awarded the Games.

An insurance policy is being taken out to protect taxpayers in the event of a shortfall, a deal that Chicago hopes will help them defeat their main rivals Rio de Janeiro when the IOC picks the winning city at its Session in Copenhagen on October 2.

Sandusky said: "In the last week alone, two highly respected organisations - the Civic Federation of Chicago and the International Olympic Committee - have issued reports that find Chicago's plan to be responsible and achievable, with minimal risk to taxpayers. 

"We have also received high marks from Chicago Alderman for the safeguards that have been put in place to protect taxpayers.

"Regardless of which poll is taken, in every one, more respondents supported the bid than did not and are in favour of Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Chicago officials also claimed that as the Chicago Tribune surveyed only 380 respondents it is not as accurate as other polls that have interviewed more people.

Sandusky said: "There is other polling data - commissioned by entities that have no affiliation with Chicago 2016 - that is quite different from the Chicago Tribune results.

"Earlier this week, a respected European sports marketing agency, SPORT+MARKT, announced that 92 per cent of the US population supports Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

"The sample size was 1,037 respondents.

"The IOC's own polling, which was included in the Evaluation Commission Report, found 67.3 per cent of Chicagoans 'strongly support' or 'support' the bid, and 20.5 per cent are 'neutral' or have 'no opinion'.
"Nationally, 61.1 per cent of Americans 'strongly support' or 'support' the bid, and 30.0 per cent are 'neutral' or have 'no opinion'."

Chicago also claimed that corporate America has demonstrated its support for the bid with a series of donations and that the public has also shown its enthusiasm for bringing the Summer Games back to the US for the first time since Atlanta in 1996.

Sandusky said: "There are other, equally valid and important measures, such as the $70 million (£43 million) in funding that has been raised entirely from private sources in support of the bid; the more than 20,000 volunteers who support Chicago 2016; the 2,643 of Olympic and Paralympic athletes who support Chicago 2016; and the 30,000 Chicago-area young people who have benefited from programmes offered by World Sport Chicago. 

"We are extremely proud and grateful for the support we have received from Chicagoans and bid supporters throughout America."

Madrid and Tokyo are also bidding for the Games.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected].

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