POSTED: September 28th 2009

World leaders lobbying 2016 Olympics votes

Brazil's state President Lula / Rio 2016
Brazil's state President Lula / Rio 2016

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA/COPENHAGEN: Finally we have the list of world leaders that will be attending on behalf of the four cities vying for the 2016 Games. US President Barack Obama together with the new Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, both confirmed today that they will be coming to the IOC session supporting Chicago and Tokyo.

Madrid will have former sailor, King Juan Carlos of Spain, pushing for them and Brazil’s charismatic leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be supporting Rio de Janeiro. With all these high profile leaders the IOC will be enjoying the blaze of the spotlights for the start of the IOC session.

Aside from this glowing attendance of personalities one huge and critical problem remains. The element of time, or rather the lack of it, to personally meet and greet and persuade the IOC members to vote for your bid city. There will be less than 24 hours from when the delegates arrive to the actual vote and a good portion of it will be taken up with the presentations.

For all intents and purposes it seems the IOC planned the schedule tight so they could keep the lobbying circus at a minimum and clear the deck so they could get on with the congress.

Will having your head of state there be only window dressing for the presentations or will there be time to get down to the real business of gathering votes? All the cities have been under pressure from eachother to have their national leaders attending as well as put forward the best bid.

Having such high profile people there puts serious security pressure on the Danish organizers. In spite of rallying bid supporters already starting to cluster in the city they won't have access to the main proceedings.

Bidding used to be about the bid groups looking to simply convince the IOC Members for votes. After the successful attendance and lobbying of former Prime Minister Tony Blair on behalf of London 2012 and Russian President Vladimir Putin for Sochi 2014 seemed to move mountains and IOC votes. The Russian delegation did show up at the meeting with the biggest jet in the world and that helped to get attention too.

IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge recently remarked that the IOC is honored by the presence of heads of government as it is a further reassurance that public authorities are behind the bid. But that it certainly is not a requirement and that they have chosen to come on their own accord.

Olympic bid fever

Where do you find an organization that when it decides to award its star event you have world leaders heading up presentations? Apart from the good news from Dow Jones on financial stability, it appears the Olympic brand is doing quite well. Actually better than ever.

The system has gone from a comprehensive city plan to cities spending almost US$50 million dollars to carry out the little over two year campaign. It is big business and there are no consolation prizes, one wins and everyone else goes home and starts to nurture dreams for the next possibility.

Soon we will see just how much of an impact these leaders can have on lobbying the IOC from a podium.

Keywords · 2016 Olympics · Barack Obama · Michelle Obama · Yukio Hatoyama · Juan Carlos of Spain · Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

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