Obama will go to Denmark to pitch for Olympics
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark this week to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press Monday morning that Obama will leave T...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark this week to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press Monday morning that Obama will leave Thursday and join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen, where they'll make the pitch to the International Olympic Committee. Obama would be the first U.S. president to take on such a direct role in lobbying for an Olympics event.
The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Copenhagen to select a host city for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago faces tough competition from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.
Obama, who represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate after serving in the Illinois Legislature, is a longtime supporter of Chicago's bid. He and Michelle consider it their adopted home town, and he recently sent letters to selected IOC members, promising a "spectacular Olympic experience for one and all."
"President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city's most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen," Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement. "Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady."
The president had held off on announcing a trip to Copenhagen, saying his first priority was the ongoing debate in Washington over health care reform. The legislation is a signature piece of his domestic policy agenda and negotiations on Capitol Hill have been contentious.
But with heads of state representing Rio and Madrid already scheduled to attend the IOC meeting Friday, Chicago's bid organizers had hoped Obama would make an in-person appeal.
"I don't think there's an IOC member on the planet that wouldn't love to meet your president. He's a transformational figure in the world today," longtime IOC member Dick Pound said recently.
Obama is also mobilizing his administration on behalf of Chicago's bid. Senior adviser Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, will also be joining the president and first lady in Copenhagen. All are from Illinois.
They join a Chicago contingent already packed with more star power than a Hollywood red carpet. The first lady is one of the few people who rivals her husband in visibility, and she'll be joined by talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who trails only Angelina Jolie on Forbes' annual Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of the rich and famous' most powerful.
Chicago is also bringing 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists, including Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin.