Obama could help Chicago a€" if he goes for IOC vote

CHICAGO (AP) a€" President Barack Obama draws adoring crowds whenever he goes overseas.

No wonder Chicago 2016 officials want him in Denmark for next montha€™s all-important vote by the International Olympic Committee.

a€œHe is obviously so highly esteemed around the world, and I think in the IOC, that he would be helpful. Very helpful,a€ said Patrick Ryan, leader of the bid to bring the Summer Games back to the United States for the first time since 1996.

Obama has not said yet if he will accompany Chicago 2016 to Copenhagen for the IOCa€™s Oct. 2 decision on a host city for the 2016 Games. Chicago is in a tight contest with Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo, and the presence of world leaders has been instrumental in the most recent votes.

Tony Blair helped London land the 2012 Games when he met IOC members in Singapore in 2005, and Vladimir Putin traveled to Guatemala City in 2007 to push Sochia€™s winning bid for the 2014 Winter Games. Brazila€™s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has already said hea€™ll be in Copenhagen, as will King Juan Carlos of Spain. Japan has invited incoming Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Crown Prince Naruhito to attend.

Obama was a vocal supporter of his adopted hometowna€™s bid even before he became president, and he has sent four video messages to IOC members. But he is also fighting for a sweeping overhaul of the health care system, what could be a signature piece of legislation for his administration.

The G-20 economic summit is also in Pittsburgh the week before the IOC vote.

a€œHis answer all along has been, a€™I want to help any way I can.a€™ But hea€™s got to deal with his presidential responsibilities,a€ Ryan said.

Obama isna€™t the only star power Chicago 2016 would like to bring to Copenhagen. Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey have also supported the bid, and their worldwide appeal could give Chicago another boost with IOC voters.

Bid leaders are working to see if Jordana€™s schedule a€" he now runs basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats a€" would allow him to go to Copenhagen. Oprah told the local ABC affiliate on Tuesday night that shea€™s willing to go to Copenhagen, and Ryan will happily take her up on the offer.

Winfrey took over Chicagoa€™s famed Michigan Avenue on Tuesday to celebrate her 24th season, and said she hoped the show a€" which is broadcast worldwide a€" would help showcase the city for IOC officials.

a€œWe certainly would want her to come,a€ Ryan said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment