Written by Anya
President Obama is scheduled to leave Washington on Thursday night and fly to Copenhagen, Denmark to assist with the final pitch to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on behalf of his beloved adopted hometown. The IOC is scheduled to make a decision on October 2nd as to which fortunate city will be awarded hosting duties of the 2016 Olympics. In contention are Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and (you guessed it), the Windy City.
Obama, whose visit was scheduled at the last minute, is expected to spend less than a full day in Copenhagen. He will be joined by other Chicago VIP’s who arrived earlier, among them First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah, Mayor Richard Daley, and senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett. Many prominent past Olympic athletes are also along for the pitch.
Although a recent Zogby poll found that the majority of Americans and Chicagoans support the U.S. bid, Obama’s decision to attend the festivities has not been without controversy. Republicans have criticized the President for leaving at such a critical time, with the situation in Afghanistan needing full-time attention, among other issues. He also faces disapproval from some Chicagoans on the other side of the political aisle who consider Chicago’s bid to host the Olympics nothing more than a money-making operation for the elite and don’t think Obama should be wasting his time on the bid during a time of unprecedented job loss and cutbacks in government.
Obama might be taking a page out of Tony Blair’s playbook. Mr. Blair is credited with winning the 2012 Olympics for London (over favored Paris) when he made an appearance just as the IOC was deciding on the host city for 2012.
Will Obama’s celebrity power be enough to swing the vote in favor of the U.S.? Most commentators consider Rio to be the leading contender, but reading the mind of the IOC is difficult and Obama’s unexpected appearance will likely make this a closer race than expected, if nothing else.
Do you approve of Obama traveling abroad for what some consider a frivolous pursuit? Would you like to see Chicago awarded the Olympics? Can you believe the 2016 Olympics are only seven years away?!?