Failed Olympic Bid Funds Summer Sports

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Thanks to Chicago’s failed Summer Olympics bid, $6.1 million in leftover corporate donations is being used to help sustain a youth sports program.

Mayor Richard Daley’s office announced last month that World Sport Chicago (WSC), a youth recreational program born out of the city’s efforts to host the 2016 summer games, will use the new funding to support existing and new programs, including youth wrestling camps, archery and weightlifting programs and rhythmic gymnastics clinics. Nearly 12,000 young people are expected to participate in WSC-sponsored events this summer, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

While details of the $6.1 million funding stream were not released to the public until early last month, WSC was not caught by surprise. The program, established three years ago when Chicago’s Olympic bid was about a year old, understood that it could receive any leftover donations, said project manager Jason Eby.

Chicago plans activities that will serve 250,000 youth this summer, about 35,000 fewer than last summer, due to the struggling economy and the absence of the federal stimulus money that it received last year.

Chicago maintains a close working relationship with WSC but has no control over the program. Though a city spokesman stopped short of saying WSC would have folded were it not for the leftover money, he gave the city credit for its resourceful budget appropriation.

“In light of the challenging economic times, we had to come up with ways to fund these programs,” said Lance Lewis, assistant press secretary in the Mayor’s Office. The $6.1 million “was a creative way to find funds to save our summer youth programs. This economy is hurting everybody.”