Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama promotes Chicago bid to host 2016 Olympics

US President Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen this week to press the International Olympic Committee on his hometown Chicago's 2016 Summer Games bid, a White House official said on Monday.

US President Barack Obama, seen here on September 26, will travel to Copenhagen this week to press the International Olympic Committee on Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Obama will lobby the IOC ahead of the October 2 vote on the venue for the 2016 Games, in a change of heart that will delight organizers vying with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro for the right to host the global sporting extravaganza.

The official said on condition of anonymity the president would go to Denmark later this week, after Obama previously said the pressure of his health care reform drive would keep him from attending the crucial meeting.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One last week that a presidential advance team left the United States one week ago "to preserve the option for the president to visit Copenhagen and lend his voice to America's bid for the 2016 Olympics."

King Juan Carlos of Spain and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are expected to travel to Copenhagen to press the candidacies of Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. London was awarded the 2012 Summer Games partly because British prime minister Tony Blair went to Singapore to lobby.

First Lady Michelle Obama leads the US official delegation and talk show star Oprah Winfrey has also agreed to lobby for the Windy City. Chicago mayor Richard Daley was also to go to Denmark in the effort.

House of Representatives Democrat Bobby Rush, who represents parts of Chicago, said last week that a direct lobbying role by the president would be critical in the city prevailing over the competition.

"You've got to be in-the-face, arms-around-the-shoulder. It's going to take that kind of lobbying to win this," he said. "It's all about contact, communication and the ever-present ask."


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