After a little fumbling with the envelope, the head of the International Olympic Committee has just announced the venue for the 2016 Olympics – Rio de Janeiro. It all seems a confirmation of the mood of the moment – Brazil is deeply fashionable and on the way up; and the shine has come off Barack Obama, who turned up in person to lobby for Chicago – only to see his home town eliminated early.
Poor Obama, he really didn’t deserve this. I bet he now regrets going all the way to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago. His great trump-card was meant to be his global popularity. But the International Olympic Committee had no trouble in brushing him aside. I’m afraid this is all going to play into the gathering conservative narrative in the US of Obamas a naive dupe, who grovels in front of foreigners – and gets nothing back in return. It seems to be setback after setback for the US president at the moment – health-care, Iran, the Afghanistan mess, unemployment up at nearly 10%.
As for Brazil – never has the country been so fashionable. The Brazilians are hosting the World Cup in 2014 and now the Olympics, two years later. They provide the first letter of the much-touted group of emerging economic superpowers – the BRICs. They are key members of the G20. In Lula, Brazil at last has a leader who is a recognised global figure. He gave the lead-off address at the UN General Assembly last week. (Just before Obama, symbolically enough.) And Brazil has also just discovered massive reserves of offshore oil. Oh lucky country!