The Powers That Be are about to vote on the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games. The mix is eclectic – Madrid, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago – the tension, electric. My vote is with Rio – it's stunning and it does good party. Which city lights your fire?
This city knows how to live, but does it want an international sporting event to interfere with its lifestyle? Can event programming accommodate the siesta in this most Spanish of Spanish cities?
And, Madrid competes with Barcelona on almost every level – does it want to add the Olympics to the ledger? Can it do it better than Barcelona in '92?
Yes this amazing city is orderly and efficient. And the mix of traditional and popular culture is infinitely fascinating. The shopping and nightlife are something to be experienced. The cherry blossoms are beautiful, as are, some may argue, the neon lights at night. But this city is not inherently beautiful. For its population size, Tokyo is compact. The downside of compact? Crowded. Surely we can't ask the rail staff to squeeze any more people through the doors of the city's trains.
Besides, Tokyo hosted the summer Olympics in 1964. It's been there, done that – does it really need to do it again?
So Chicago has fabulous restaurants (and deep-dish pizza!) and inspiring architecture (look up!). It does good party – Lollapalooza and the Chicago Blues Festival – and good sport. But what good is all that if you can't get anywhere? The city's traffic-gridlock problems are second only to LA. Yes, man of the moment Obama is pushing for a win by the Windy City, but the US has already hosted the summer Olympics four times. That's a bit greedy, really.
If the samba doesn't sway the voters, the setting surely will: lush rainforest, beautiful beaches, maginficent mountains - this city is something to look at. And listen to. The music, the parties... Imagine the opening ceremony! Surely they could out-Carnaval the Carnaval. Of course, the party atmosphere may prove too tempting for the athletes. (But then they could just blame it on Rio – and how much fun will it be to see that in the headlines?).
The Olympics have never been hosted by a South American country – it's about time, isn't it?
Tell us where you want to see the 2016 Olympics - or join the debate on the Thorn Tree forum, where Chicago is the current front runner.
Can't wait till 2016 to travel? Fill in some time with our Year of Sport Travel.