I was in Rome recently for the International Swimming Federation's World Championships, but my thoughts were never far from Chicago.
I can't help but think of the extraordinary things that will happen to our city if we're fortunate enough to win the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In Rome there were roughly 2,800 athletes who took part. But in 2016, there would be 10,500 athletes from every corner of the globe. They would compete, not only in swimming, but in all of the sports--from track and field to gymnastics, from basketball to equestrian--that captivate and transfix the world every four years.
Besides the many visitors who would come here to join Chicagoans to watch in person, more than four billion viewers from around the globe would be turning on their television sets to scenes of Chicago's beautiful skyline and lakefront--and to do what we will be doing: watch the very best athletes on earth do their very best to win the gold.
It would be a fantastic event, festive and exciting.
But it also would be an historic and transformative event for Chicago, very much like the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the 1933 World's Fair, which put the city on the world stage and paid dividends to Chicagoans for years afterwards.
If we win the Games, the financial and social benefits generated would be tremendous--jobs, economic development, affordable housing, improved parks, and sports programs for thousands and thousands of kids.
It's no wonder that Tokyo, one of our competitors, is trying so hard to win. Leaders there know the great things that came to their city after hosting the 1964 Games. Another one of our competitors, Madrid, is going all out to be chosen. People there are keenly aware of the benefits that flowed to sister city Barcelona after the 1992 Games. And Rio de Janeiro? They witnessed the benefits of hosting the 2007 Pan American Games.
Chicago 2016 has been in this contest for three years now. It has been exhilarating and rewarding.
Rome was just the latest stop as we seek support for our bid abroad. In recent weeks, members of our team have been at sporting and international events all over the world--Singapore; Abuja, Nigeria; Berlin.
But we are honored and gratified that our greatest backing has been at home.
That support is especially important now as we sprint for the finish line. The International Olympic Committee makes its decision on Oct. 2, and our final push comes with a sense of urgency because we know how much good for Chicago hangs in the balance.
We welcome you to join in the race for 2016 gold. Visit www.chicago2016.org to find out how you can support Chicago's bid for the Games.