POSTED: November 5th 2008

Yes you can, Mr President

KEIR RADNEDGE & LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA, Fla: It's inevitable that the sports constituency of Chicago will be tempted to view Barack Obama's election to the US Presidency as a significant weapon in the city's bid to host the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

Obama will enter the White House benefiting from a wave of goodwill around the world which could work in favour of the city in which he lives only a short distance from the proposed stadium site.

Chicago is one of the shortlisted four cities which have 11 months in which to convince the IOC to vote in its direction in Copenhagen, Denmark, next October 2.

Obama has to decide what role he takes in the process. The then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, played a decisive political role on behalf of London in the closing days and hours before the vote for host city for 2012.

Similarly, Vladimir Putin, the then Russian President,  also stepped up to support the Sochi 2014 Winter Games bid and his intervention had a significant effect on IOC members in spite of the fact that a large number of the venues had to built.

Perhaps Obama might best serve Chicago's interests if he can use his weight of office to persuade the USOC to negotiate a solution to the ongoing controversy over the American slice of the Olympic financial cake.

Compromise gesture

In the current, transformed political climate even a compromise gesture might well be enough to disarm international critics. That would then remove one of the major obstacles to a Chicago crowning.

IOC member Dick Pound told the Chicago Tribune:   "It is going to be hard for him (Obama) to find time in his first year in office but if he could come to Europe one or two days early and talk with members, it could be a major factor. That is how London won.''

Rival cities observing

Already Tokyo - one of the other three rival bid cities along with Madrid and Rio de Janeiro - has raised concerns about how influential the rippling Obama effect could prove for the Chicago 2016 bid.

"I wonder how IOC members will react when Mr Obama appears in a presentation for Chicago," said Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda after confirmation of the US Election outcome.

"Mr. Obama is popular and good at speeches so things could get tough for Japan," said senior JOC board member Tomiaki Fukuda.

Mercedes Coghen, head of the Madrid 2016 bid spoke to the press: "I'm happy for Obama's victory but in this race for the Olympics, every bid has its moments," she said. "I think we're all working towards the same goal and are using what we can to win it.

"I don't know if he's made Chicago the favourite. October 2, 2009, is a long way away, and we just have to focus on doing our jobs until then. I think he'll make a great president for a great country."

Keywords · Barack Obama · Chicago 2016 · Tsunekazu Takeda · Tomiaki Fukuda · Tony Blair · Vladimir Putin · IOC

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