Ethnic diversity: Chicago's edge for 2016 Olympics by Kiran Ansari
The rich diversity in languages, colors and faiths in Chicago is what makes it stand out among competing cities for the 2016 Olympic Games. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago invited Michael Mullen and Waleed Elgindy from the Chicago 2016 Candidate City office to make a presentation at the Mosque Foundation on May 16.
There are 19 Muslim nations in the International Olympic Committee and if they believe their athletes and spectators will be welcomed in Chicago, it can bring our city one step closer to being in the world spotlight in 2016.
The presenters put common fears to rest by assuring the audience that the Olympics will not be using their tax dollars, but will be funded by private donations. Rather, they have estimated an increase of $22 billion worth of economic activity for the state if Chicago is chosen. The increase in the number of jobs will not be at the expense of the quality of life of Chicagoans. Rather the improved public transportation system and other infrastructure upgrades will benefit us long after the 17 days of sporting events are over.
"Think of it as a two-week long free commercial for Chicago," said Mullen. "Barcelona enjoyed a 94% increase in tourism for years after the Olympics."
Muslims can help their city win the bid through volunteering by visiting www.chicago2016.org so they can be a part of history. They can also help join the letter writing campaign slated for Ramadan to reach out to Muslims in Olympic voting positions around the world. Finally, Muslims can introduce youth sporting programs that promote Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.
"Universal School helped us when the International Olympic Committee was in Chicago," said Elgindy who grew up in Chicago as well. "The school got us 13 soccer players from 11 countries, which helped push our ethnically diverse message."
The two short videos that the audience saw included a Muslim representation. The first video had a shot of a Muslim woman in hijab and the other video that focused on Chicago sister cities included little girls saying "Marhaba Ukhtee" and "Assalamu Alaikum behan", both meaning Hello sister in Arabic and Urdu respectively.