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08/14/2009

Olympic Vote gets Presidential Treatment, maybe

The President of Brazil will be there.  So will the King of Spain and Japan's Crown Prince.  But President Barack Obama has still not publicly committed to attend the International Olympic Committee's host city vote in October. This morning a White House spokesperson would only echo the administration's previous comments that no decision has been made on whether Obama will attend.

Chicago is the only city competing to host the 2016 Games that has not announced who will lead its lobbying effort in the days leading up to the decision in Copenhagen.  

This morning President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil became the latest head of state to confirm that he plans to personally lobby IOC members in Copenhagen in the days leading up to the 2016 decision. President Obama's coyness is believed to have more to due with security considerations than a lack of enthusiasm for the bid of his hometown; however a Presidential no-show would be devastating to Chicago's Olympic bid.  

Earlier this week White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who is heading-up the adminstration's Olympic efforts, continued to be non-committal.  “Telecasting our last, home-stretch strategy doesn’t seem to be prudent,” Jarrett told Bloomberg. “We want to win. We’re not interested in coming in second, third or fourth.”  However, Jarrett went on to say the President's time is valuable and “he has an awful lot on his plate."  An early October trip to Copenhagen would occur at the same time Obama needs to be back at home working with Congress to advance his domestic agenda.

Lobbying by heads of state became fashionable in recent years when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin personally pressed some IOC flesh in the hours leading up winning votes for London and Sochi respectively.  

Chicago's bid team is aggressively working behind-the-scenes to line-up other hometown heroes to join Obama in Copenhagen or blunt the impact should he be unable to attend.  Mayor Richard Daley has said his "dream team" promoting Chicago in Copenhagen would include Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan.  

Chicago is competing with Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Madrid for the right to host the 2016 Summer Games. The winner will be announced on October 2




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