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US passport control procedures blamed for loss of Olympics

Travel Forums North America US passport control procedures blamed for loss of Olympics

1. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4834 posts) 7y

Chicago was in the running for hosting the 2016 Olympics (which ended up going to Rio de Janiero), but was the first city knocked out of the running. From a NY Times blog:

Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”
...
The exchange underscores what tourism officials here have been saying for years about the sometimes rigorous entry process for foreigners, which they see as a deterrent to tourism.

Personally I'm indeed very much deterred from visiting the USA because of the border procedures. I wonder if recognition of the problem at this level might finally start a swing back to things becoming more reasonable again... Can't say that I'm very hopeful, though... :|

2. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 7y

Personally I'm indeed very much deterred from visiting the USA because of the border procedures

My feeling from reading your post is that you have no idea what you are talking about, hundreds of thousands of people enter the USA daily with no problems of any kind.

In fact last I cleared US Customs & Immigration here in Vancouver the agent never even looked at me just my passport and airline ticket and his computer screen.

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 7y

I don't think the US Immigration & Custom Enforcement is the main reason Chicago lost the 2016 bid. The US has hosted several Olympics in the last few decades. Madrid should not even been considered. Barcelona hosted the 1992 games, London has the 2012 games. Europe has been well represented in hosting past games. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics.

Now consider South America. The modern Olympic Games started in 1896 and South America has never hosted the Games. It is way past time for a South American country be chosen as the host country. I am very happy Brazil got the nod and hope they put on a very successful games.

4. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 7y

Quoting SamSalmon

Personally I'm indeed very much deterred from visiting the USA because of the border procedures

My feeling from reading your post is that you have no idea what you are talking about, hundreds of thousands of people enter the USA daily with no problems of any kind.

In fact last I cleared US Customs & Immigration here in Vancouver the agent never even looked at me just my passport and airline ticket and his computer screen.

No, I'm with Sander - I've found US Customs & Immigration generally to be rude and over-zealous at the airports I've visited, the only place in the world where I've really found this to be so. On one occasion (at LAX), two sets of staff emptied out the contents of my handluggage on separate occasions on the way through the gate. No smile, no apology, no explanation.

I'm not in a position to speculate about Chicago and the Olympics but being assured of a more pleasurable passage through the border would generally make me feel more positive about visiting the USA.

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4834 posts) 7y

Quoting SamSalmon

In fact last I cleared US Customs & Immigration here in Vancouver the agent never even looked at me just my passport and airline ticket and his computer screen.

Yeah, you have the benefit of being both a Canadian citizen, and being able to go through the pre-clearance process in Canada, which is generally seen as a much more pleasant alternative.

But seriously, go and read the comments accompanying that NY Times blog. Or those on slashdot or on boingboing, or anywhere else where this is being discussed. There's literally hundreds upon hundreds of personal experiences detailing just how horrid an experience it has become to fly to the USA. And yes, I have a personal experience, too, after which I said "never again".

The abuse suffered by people who want to enter the USA is real and systematic (despite undoubtedly many individual officials making an honest effort at making the experience as pleasant as possible; they just can't undo the damage done by the others, the arbitrary decisions, the hostility, the suspicion, the long waits, the useless restrictions, etc).
No other first- or second- world country comes even close to being similarly unwelcoming.

6. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 7y

Well, I have had a personal US immigration problem when my first wife (who was Brasilian) returned from her trip to visit her parents in Rio de Janeiro. (Her flight arrived at 5:30 PM and I had booked an intimate 8:00 PM dinner appointment at a fancy local restaurant. After she finally was released from customs at 2 AM, we received an apology from the Secret Service agent they had called over money she was carrying that they believed was counterfeit.)

I believe items like this are fairly isolated though--and that vegasmike6's explanation is the most logical reason for choosing the city they did to host the Olympics.

Of course, from my former wife's point of view--justice (in the form of choosing Rio and Brasil over Chicago and the US) has been served--even if it did take a long number of years.

7. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 7y

Oh--let me wish all my Carioca friends in Rio congratulations (parabens) on winning the Olympics.

8. Posted by Ham Radio (Respected Member 284 posts) 7y

I was spending a week in New York City Midtown Manhattan when this got posted. First, congratulations to our friends in Rio for getting the Olympics. They'll do fine. As a warmup, they'll be hosting the World Cup football championship in 2014 and after those riots the 2016 Olympics will seem like a cakewalk.

For those of you who do not follow international sports politics, let me clarify the real reason Chicago got eliminated on the first ballot: money.

You see, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) covets the money the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) receives from the US television network (in this case NBC) that pays for the broadcast rights to the Games. The USOC take is huge, and the IOC wants a bigger cut of the action. The USOC argues that since they developed the television market over several decades which has in turn lead to high rights fees, they feel no obligation to give the IOC a larger take. Nor will they. The hatred the IOC has for the USOC is well known, and this vote was not a surprise (except to our our elected president and Chicago city delegation who were the only clueless folks involved.)
Full disclosure: my spouse and I contribute financial support to the USOC athletes fund.

By the way, the people of Chicago were indifferent about hosting the Games. Polls indicated 50% didn't want them. Americans as a whole aren't overly concerned either because we neither seek nor need international approval.

So, on to Vancouver for the Winter Games. Canada will do a great job hosting, and good luck to all.

9. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

Well I agree that US Customs can be a pain, they aren't as bad as the hoops you have to jump through to get a Russian visa. The IOC saw fit to give Sochi the 2014 Winter Games, so I can't see that custom procedures being the primary reason for denying Chicago's bid.

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Oct-2009, at 01:20 by GregW ]