Chicago 2016 Working With Obama for Copenhagen Dates

(ATR) Chicago 2016 bid leaders have notified President Barack Obama of the days they could use him in Copenhagen to help sway IOC members before the Oct. 2 vote.

Bid chairman Patrick G. Ryan said he can't guarantee an Obama appearance if "something really critical comes up." He told Around the Rings, "Our belief is that he has been so supportive of the bid that he would want to be there, but he can't commit."

Would Chicago be at a disadvantage if Obama doesn't show?

"I don't want to speculate on that," Ryan told reporters at Sportaccord, "because if there's no catastrophe, I think he'll be there."

Ryan gave an emphatic "yes" when asked if he expected the heads of state of the other three bid cities - Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo - to attend the Session. British prime minister Tony Blair and Russian president Vladimir Putin helped put London and Sochi over the top by appealing personally to IOC voters.

Ryan says Obama's schedule probably will not be confirmed until two weeks out.

Bob Ctvrtlik, the USOC's vice president for international relations, says Obama would be an asset to his hometown's effort.

"I think anyone who's met him senses his charisma and his ability to work well with people," Ctvrtlik said, "so if he can come for an hour, we'll appreciate it, and if he can come for a couple of days, we appreciate it even more."

As president-elect, Obama appeared in a film shown in Istanbul in November at the European Olympic Committees' general assembly.

Ctvrtlik said the bid committee's relationship with the city, state and federal government is better than any other U.S. bid city.

Ryan added that Obama's worldwide popularity has helped boost the image of the United States throughout the world. When New York was bidding in 2005, the U.S. suffered from a negative image.

"I don't think there's any doubt when you look at the popularity of president Obama both in the U.S. and outside the U.S., that his presidency is a positive," Ryan said.

"The fact that he is a man of sport helps a lot. I think that the administration in the last 75 days, has been well-received around the world. What I hear from IOC members is very positive towards President Obama."

Ueberroth Not Part of USOC Team in Denver

Another U.S. president -- Peter Ueberroth, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee -- is not attending Sportaccord. When Ueberroth retired as chairman of the board, it was understood that he would continue to spearhead the USOC's controversial negotiations with the IOC over revenue sharing.

"The negotiations are being led by (new USOC chairman) Larry Probst," Ctvrtlik said. "Anyone who thinks Peter is still calling the shots on this is mistaken."

The revenue-sharing discussions promise to be a hot topic at Sportaccord, and USOC and IOC negotiators plan to have multiple meetings, Ctvrtlik said.

He said he didn't think it was wise to put a deadline on the negotations, but was "confident eventually there will be an agreement." He also didn't think it should affect the Chicago bid effort.

"The revenue issue is a long-term dilemma for the Olympic Movement," Ctvrtlik said. "I have too much respect for any of these leaders to think that they would let a short-term objective get in the way of what really is a major issue for the NOCs and the IFs, as well as the IOC."

He said all parties must work together to increase television revenues, maximize the sponsor program and do what's best for the international federations and the NOCs to grow sport.

"There's no reason to rush these discussions," Ctvrtlik said, "and in fact, they should involve the entire Olympic family, including major national Olympic Committees."

Chicago's Ryan said he didn't believe the revenue sharing issue would be a large distraction at Sportaccord.

"There have been periods where it's been more on the minds of part of the membership -- certainly that was the case (last year) in Athens," he said

Would it become a problem if negotiations drag on? "Well, I don't want to be naïve," Ryan said, "It's clearly an issue that the membership would like to see resolved. So to whatever extent that can be expedited, that would be a good thing. If it doesn't get resolved, I would hope that there's communication about the process."

He said the IOC leadership has expressed that the USOC's negotiations should not be connected to its candidate city's effort.

"I don't think they're connected broadly across the IOC memmbership, at least not that I've heard about," Ryan said, "but there are certain indivdiuals that are more passionate about it than others."

Written by Karen RosenFor general comments or questions, click here