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Friday, August 13, 2004

Detroit as Olympic host?

What might have been:

Detroit was on the verge of being the site of the Olympics twice.
In 1959, it finished second to Tokyo for the 1964 games, and in 1963, it was runner-up to Mexico City for the 1968 games.
Applying for the Olympics was virtually a hobby for Detroit officials during the glory years before and after World War II. In all, the city made pitches for the games in 1939, 1943, 1947, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1972.
The most sophisticated effort was likely the one in 1963. Before his death that year, President John F. Kennedy appeared in a 45-minute film, which was introduced by entertainer Steve Allen, touting Detroit's charms.
"Detroit is a city of which all Americans are proud," Kennedy said. "Detroit, as the appointed representative of the United States, clearly demonstrates the national strength, the capacity, to realize the full scope and purpose of the Olympic tradition."
Even former President Dwight D. Eisenhower chipped in, calling Detroit "a superb location."
Officials staged a run across the nation to drum up support for the bid, and a 22-member delegation, lugging 7,000 pounds of equipment, traveled from Detroit to Germany to present its case. The presentation was interrupted 12 times by applause.
But Mexico City won on the first ballot. Observers blamed anti-American sentiment as one reason Detroit failed.

I've heard it said that the two saddest words in the English language are "If only."

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