POSTED: September 10th 2009

Obama Effect risks being lost on Chicago in 2016 voting

President Obama: other concerns / lake images
President Obama: other concerns / lake images

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: It is looking more and more as if President Obama’s presence in Copenhangen for the 2016 host city vote will be video-taped message rather than personal appearance.

In a show of support for the bid he and First Lady Michelle will host Olympians and Paralympians next Wednesday at the White House but there is no confirmation of his presence for election.

The IOC schedule of holding the vote on day one of the agenda denies much precious lobbying time so meetings with the President would have to be organized before the nine-day session and congress.

Chicago is in the bid race with Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo and the effect of the charismatic US President has been widely hailed as just the ticket to seal the deal and bring the Olympics back to the United States. Throughout this 2016 bid campaign the Obama effect has been a recurring topic of discussion.

White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is slated to attend the vote on October 2 in Copenhagen, representing the highest office. But, with the President deeply involved on the home front in the heated debate over health care reforms, it is looking unlikely he will join the Chicago delegation.

Special office

In June, on the eve of the IOC bid briefing, Obama announced the formation of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport.  This was set up to enhance awareness of the Olympic Movement through promotion of its fundamental principles at the federal level.

Another of Chicago’s superstar supporters, Michael Jordan, is also not expected to attend the Copenhagen session. His absence was also noted at the recent U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame dinner, a fund-raiser for Chicago 2016, where he was inducted on the roster.

The former Chicago Bulls player will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this Friday and has made several video messages in support of the bid.
The 2016 bid race will be close with no real favorite on the front line. The IOC evaluation report, assessing the risks and balances of all four cities, considering all capable of hosting the Games. Now it boils down to lobbying of the voting IOC members on the emotional appeal of the cities.

Chicago will face a real challenge if Obama does not show up in Copenhagen. Tokyo has invited newly-elected Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Crown Prince Naruhito, Rio is reported to be bringing Brazilian President Lula and Madrid includes on its team the king of Spain, Juan Carlos, an Olympian in sailing.

The absence of the US head of state would be all too evident.

Keywords · President Obama · IOC · 2016 Olympic Games · Copenhagen · Chicago · Rio de Janeiro · Madrid · Tokyo · Michael Jordan

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