Could US visa restrictions played a part in Chicago losing Olympic bid?

LatinaLista — It’s kind of embarrassing that even with the star power of the First Family and Oprah Chicago lost its bid for the Olympics. But if we had to lose, Rio was the best alternative.

Chicagoans react in disbelief in the city’s Daley Plaza upon hearing the city was among the first to be eliminated in its bid for the Olympics.
(Photo: Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)

In a country that is mired in poverty and crime, the Olympics can bring not only jobs but force its government to take seriously the problems that plague its citizens, otherwise, risk having its dark side seen by billions of people worldwide.
No country wants that. The goal of most countries is to welcome visitors to their cities. Yet, in an interesting analysis of why Chicago lost its Olympic bid, one writer noticed in a New York Times article and exchange that happened during the Q&A following the Chicago presentation that he thinks caused Chicago’s early elimination.

It looks as if the Bush administration policy on making it much harder to get a US visa (which Obama has yet to alter) has come home to sink Chicago’s Olympic bid:
In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”
This is the same stupid anti-visitor policy that is destroying American higher education by driving graduate students to UK and other universities. Here at UM, for example, we have had great trouble getting visas for some great students who want to take our LL.M for foreign students — including one who had a US government scholarship!
Maybe some good can come from this stunning defeat for Obama’s personal diplomacy: bring back the pre-9/11 visa rules that made this country a magnet for tourists, investors, and the world’s best and the brightest.

Couple that observation with the fact that current visa restrictions aren’t doing anything to prevent terrorists with al Queda ties from infiltrating the country, as was clearly illustrated with the recent arrests of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi and Najibullah Zazi.
The clearer solution to preventing terrorism is vigilance — not alienating the rest of the world just to make us think we’re safer.

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10 Comments

  1. Jose said:

    “It looks as if the Bush administration policy on making it much harder to get a US visa (which Obama has yet to alter) has come home to sink Chicago’s Olympic bid:
    In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”
    Neither you, nor the NYT have proven the case for reducing our security precautions for the sake of tourism. Blaming this all on Bush is ridiculous, because, as you might recall, Obama is president now and he could easily have reversed Bush’s allegedly onerous (as you would have us to believe) and unnecessary regulations if he had seen fit. It would seem that you believe the desire to have foreign visitors should take priority over our national security. Just because it is easier to enter Brazil, a country that, up until this point at least, isn’t threatened with Al Qaida, proves that U.S. security measures are overdone? Frankly, I really don’t think that the Olympics is all that great if it means that we would have to let down our guard. We’ll see if Brazil survives the worldwide threat of terrorism without incident.
    “Couple that observation with the fact that current visa restrictions aren’t doing anything to prevent terrorists with al Queda ties from infiltrating the country, as was clearly illustrated with the recent arrests of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi and Najibullah Zazi.”
    Really? You’ve proven that our efforts haven’t reduced the number potential terrorists that have could have entered our counrty? Because we’ve have had a few new threats of terrorism you’d have us believe that the threat isn’t out there or that our deterence measures haven’t worked? How do you prove a this? I find your statements a little outrageous and very illogical.

  2. Diego said:

    Hola! I beg to differ with you on this one Marisa:
    “…..the Olympics can bring not only jobs but force its government to take seriously the problems that plague its citizens, otherwise, risk having its dark side seen by billions of people worldwide.”
    While jobs do come with the Olympics, historically hosting the Olympics has been a net losing economic proposition, leaving host nations with underutilized stadiums and a host of debts resulting from bonds floated for infrastructure improvements. The City of Chicago is a financial basket case and the Olympics would have made it broker.
    And the argument that somehow they are catalysts for social change is nonsense. Name one Olympics for which this has occurred. On the contrary, the Olympics in the People’s Republic of China was a disaster for the locals, interrupting commerce and the lives of the people, all for the purpose of promoting national prestige, and nothing else.
    The real winners if the Olympics were held in Chicago are the crooked politicians of the Daley cartel and developers who pay them off. The honest folk would have been left holding the bag. Half of Chicagoans recognized this and were in strong opposition against it. Check it out. Losing the Olympics is ironically the best thing that could have happened for Chicago.

  3. laura said:

    Vamos ver. Though Brazil certainly has very serious, and traditional, problems with corruption, Lula is not President Hu Jintao of China.
    I agree with Marisa that visa restrictions must have played a large role in not even considering the US as Olympic host again. The harassment and humiliation that millions of tourists and scholars undergo who want to travel to the US is absolutely out of control.
    The terrorism argument for these behaviors is getting stale. Other countries have been plagued by terrorism for decades yet do not resort to the aggressive stance of the perpetual victim, Britain being a prime example.
    In fact, maybe the world is just tired of a superpower that casts itself in an eternal victim’s role, providing it with the justification for invading other countries and committing mayhem the world over under the guise of self-defense. The statement that President Obama has not done much to change that is sad but true. One reason he hasn’t might be that many Americans – including “Jose” above? – don’t want him to change it. They prefer seeing themselves as the eternally aggrieved victims.

  4. cookie said:

    The fact that we probabaly have more enemies across the planet than any other country is reason enough to be vigilant about our nation’s security. I do agree however that we have made some enemies on our own.
    We have had several Olympic events in our country over the years. If obtaining visas to come here for the Olympics are so hard then how were we able to sponsor so many of them on our soil before?
    You are grasping at straws assuming that was the reason that we didn’t get the Olmypics this time around. I see the open borders crowd in here using that as an argument for us to become even more lax about our national security than we already are.

  5. Gabriela said:

    “Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”
    Pakistan is a hotbed of Islamic terrorists. It’s where Bin Ladin and the Taliban are hiding out. Is it any wonder why its citizens would be under close scrutiny? Would any of you in this blog want it otherwise? Pakistan knows full well that their citizens, many of whom have similar names to known terrorists, might be caught in our bureaucracy, but whose fault is that? We lost Pakistan’s vote before the voting began, but I’d rather lose the bid for the Olympics than make it easier for terrorists to enter our country.

  6. Marisa Treviño said:

    Unfortunately Gabriela, our immigration policies have made it just as difficult for people from peaceful countries, and who are our allies, than only from the Mideast.

  7. Gabriela said:

    “Unfortunately Gabriela, our immigration policies have made it just as difficult for people from peaceful countries, and who are our allies, than only from the Mideast.”
    That may be true, Marisa, but there are no doubt thousands of potential terrorists living in Canada alone, as it has had one of the most liberal immigration policies in this hemisphere. Remember the would be terrorist that a Border Patrolman discovered on the Canadian border near Vancouver a few years ago? He had bomb making material in his the trunk of his car. And don’t forget Reid, the shoebomber from the United Kingdom. He was British citizen, yet he tried to blow up an airliner. The UK is paying a terrible price from its past practice of permitting the immigration of the Moslem faith from the Middle East, in the form of radical Islam. The implimentation of Sharia law has come up in the British courts as legitimate. France has had riots from its Islamic population. Europe has made a huge error in permitting the incursion of people who don’t have our sense of values. Friendly countries? Unfortunately even some of our staunchest allies can’t trust the loyalty of their own people. We can’t even trust many of those who have been given refuge from Somalia. Remember the recent story of the Somalis that disppeared and showed up in a Taliban campl in Asia. There are no friendly countries that we can afford to overlook when it comes to sources of terrorists. Make light of our anti-terrorism laws and measures, Marisa, but I for one am supporting them over letting down our guard just so we might host the Olympic games.

  8. james said:

    Marisa, I’d rather see us not have the Olympics if it meant dropping our guard. It seems that I recall a number of cases where people working for terrorist groups have come from Canada, Great Britain and other so-called friendly countries. The GB nationale, shoe bomber Richard Reed comes to mind. Our allies have been accepting tens of thousands of immigrants from Turkey (Germans) and India (especially Moslems) (GB) who have known to be hostile towards U.S. interests, so it is clear that we should not dicriminate for/against nations based upon traditional relationships. I feel safer as an American if everyone was checked with equal considertation.

  9. Alessandra said:

    Therein lies the problem, though…trying to strike the proper balance. We are a free society (as opposed to a totalitarian police state) and we would like to remain so as much as possible. However, we also cannot be blind to the potential dangers that we invite if we are not vigilant as we found out on 9/11 and as other nations have found out as well.
    I agree also that we can’t really even let our guard down now with traditionally friendly nations. Radical Islamists are using Western converts to Islam–many of them converted in prisons, even in our own country.
    That’s one of the problems I have with profiling; it is very easy to bring “non-traditional” recruits to the “cause.” Western converts who have been recruited by radical Islamists are even more willing to sacrifice themselves as they don’t know anything else besides what they’ve been exposed to by the radical Imams and their followers. We need to be cautious across the board and screen everyone equally IMHO.

  10. Marci said:

    Marisa, this looks like you’re and advocate of racial profiling to me. Do you really advocate that persons for some countries be given a pass, while others are selected for their ethnic, racial or geographic location? Isn’t racial profiling your objection against Arapaio?
    “Unfortunately Gabriela, our immigration policies have made it just as difficult for people from peaceful countries, and who are our allies, than only from the Mideast.”

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