Sunday, October 04, 2009

Why the U.S. Lost the Olympic Bid

From the Left: Despite President Obama’s best lobbying efforts, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may have chosen Rio de Janeiro over the U.S. to host the 2016 Olympic games in Chicago due to the post-9/11 visa tourist policies established by former President Bush, according to Michael Froomkin, Professor at the University of Miami School of Law. In fact, Froomkin is convinced that the “the same stupid anti-visitor policy that is destroying American higher education also sunk Chicago’s Olympic bid.

A New York Times article points out:

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.”

A “harrowing experience” may be an understatement. Immediately after 9/11, the Bush Administration began requiring fingerprints and photographs of tourists from all but 28 countries entering the US. President Bush required that all foreigners register online within three days of travel. Thirty-five (mostly European) countries now participate in the US Visa Waiver program, however tourists from the rest of the world have to jump through the following hurdles:

  • Pay hefty visa processing and issuance fees.
  • Undergo an interview by a visa officer at the US Embassy.
  • Provide evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip may be provided.
  • Present convincing evidence that an interested person will provide financial support if the applicant does not have sufficient funds to support him or herself.

The average wait for a U.S. visa has risen to about three months. Brazil, has a reciprocal visa policy with all countries. U.S. tourists are required to fork out a $130 fee before entry into Brazil and are fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival, matching U.S. requirements for Brazilians.

H/T to Think Progress

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