Michelle Obama to lobby for Chicago Olympics in Denmark



CHICAGO- US President Barack Obama will send his wife Michelle to Copenhagen to lobby the International Olympic Committee on his hometown Chicago's 2016 bid next month, the White House said Friday.
US Olympic officials had hoped the president would travel in person to Denmark to add an extra dose of star power to the bid, but the White House said the fight to pass historic health care reform would keep him at home.



Michelle Obama to lobby for Chicago Olympics in Denmark
"One of the great honors I have as first lady is to represent America around the world and it is with great pride that I will go to Copenhagen to make the case for the United States to host the 2016 Olympics," Michelle Obama said in a statement.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Chicago would offer the world a fantastic setting for these historic games and I hope that the Olympic torch will have the chance to burn brightly in my hometown," she said.
The first lady will travel to Denmark for the International Olympic Committee session on October 2, where the victorious city will be chosen from remaining candidate cities Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.
The president has spoken out several times in support of Chicago's bid, and made a number of videos in support of its application for the Games.
Other heads of state are expected to attend the meeting, and London was awarded the 2012 Summer Games partly because then British prime minister Tony Blair had decided to travel to Singapore to lobby for the city.
King Juan Carlos of Spain and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are expected to travel to Copenhagen.
But Pat Ryan, chairman of Chicago's 2016 bid group, said Friday he doesn't believe that the US president's absence there will hurt their chances.
"The vote is not going to be decided on how many political leaders are there," said Ryan, during the US Olympic Committee's Assembly meetings a downtown Chicago hotel.
"The IOC has taken lot of time to study the bids and they are forming their own conclusions.
"It is great that other world leaders will be there and we will have our world leaders there too."
Ryan said Michelle Obama, who calls Chicago home, is a strong representative because she is sports minded and is passionate about the city.
"We are excited about Michelle coming," Ryan said. "The first lady has a global image that is just tremendous. She has been focusing on health, sport and youth.
"It is a great thing for our bid. She will represent her husband and life partner extremely well. It is her home town and she is an athlete herself."
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley received a call from Obama Friday regarding the Olympic bid. Daley did not go into details about was discussed.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had said Thursday that a trip to Copenhagan was not in Obama's plan at the moment.
On Friday morning before the White House announcement, Olympian and men's world figure skating champion Evan Lysacek said having Obama in Copenhagan could help seal the deal for Chicago.
"I hope our president can get there and tip it in our favour," said Lysacek, who grew up in Chicago but now lives in Los Angeles. "I am pulling for us of course."
The Chicago bid package includes an 80,000-seat stadium and more than 12 billion dollars worth of infrastructure improvements has been allocated for the city of Chicago even if the bid isn't successful.
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Saturday, September 12th 2009
AFP
           


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