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Will he or won't he?

As we first reported Wednesday night, President Barack Obama will host an Olympic event at the White House next week to help promote Chicago's Olympic bid.  The big question that remains unanswered: Will he use the event to say he's going to Copenhagen to personally lobby the International Olympic Committee in the days before the vote? Or, will the White House pep rally be the extent of the President's personal pitch?

In the last week, I've had two influential IOC members tell me that an Obama no-show would significantly wound Chicago's bid.  Fatally wound, I asked?  They didn't go quite that far, but they didn't rule it out.  

Why is it so important for Obama to go? Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair set the precedent when personal lobbying by him and his wife on the eve of the 2012 vote is believed to have won the race for underdog London.  Since then, former Russian President Vladimir Putin also kissed the IOC ring in the hours before Sochi was selected to host the 2014 Winter Games.

I'm told no sitting US President has ever personally lobbied the IOC at the final presentation.  For a host of issues, there is a deep feeling among many in the international Olympic community that America is a self-centered, money hungry partner in the process.  

A recent change in leadership at the USOC, the announcement of an American Olympic television network and a revenue sharing dispute have done nothing to change that impression.  This morning in Chicago, US Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst said his decision to temporarily pull the plug on the Olympic TV channel and an understanding to put off talks of cutting the US share of global Olympic revenue should help quiet those concerns.  “We were surprised by the intensity of the reaction by various constituencies.  "I think we’ve removed those roadblocks and we’re in good shape," Probst said.

Others aren't so sure.  Having the internationally popular President arrive on the scene might change their minds.  Chicago's bid needs a "feel good moment" that demonstrates America respects the Olympic movement.


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What in God's name makes everyone in the media think that everyone in the Chicago area wants the 2016 Olympics held here? I've spoken to many people that want NO part of the mess that the Games would create. How about showing both sides of the story?

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