Barack Obama may appear in a video later this month supporting the Chicago 2016 bid. (Getty)(ATR) The leader of the Chicago bid for the 2016 Olympics tells Around the Rings that the victory of Barack Obama as U.S. president “truly puts a global spotlight” on the city. And there’s speculation Obama could be part of a Chicago bid presentation later this month.
Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan says the image of the city was well-served by the celebration for Obama held at Grant Park in the center of the city.
“It’s clear the world had its eyes on Chicago last night,” said Ryan about the spectacle. Estimates say as many as 250,000 people flocked to Grant Park for Obama’s speech. Despite the size of the crowd, the event was trouble-free, which Ryan says is a good indication of how Chicago would handle Olympic throngs if the city wins the 2016 Games. Grant Park would be the location of three venues for the Olympics and would serve as a major gathering point.
While Ryan believes that the bid would have enjoyed the full support of McCain had he won the election, he says the Obama victory is a big plus for Chicago 2016.
“It’s a good thing Barack has won,” says Ryan. “It’s an important statement about the future of the government. I know that he is very popular around the world and that’s important because our bid is all about welcoming the world to the U.S.”
But Ryan decries any talk that Obama’s rise makes Chicago a favorite in the 2016 contest.
“We’re not looking at this as a sea change among the four cities in this contest,” he says. Ryan believes IOC members will look for more than a compelling head of state as a reason to cast their vote for an Olympic host city.
The President-elect may go to work for Chicago 2016 as early as this month, Chicago 2016 chairman Patrick Ryan says he would be “shocked” if Obama doesn’t speak next year at the IOC Session in Copenhagen. (ATR)one source tells Around the Rings, indicating the bid may include a video from Obama in its presentation to the European Olympic Committees meeting in Istanbul later this month.
Ryan saluted ATR’s digging but stopped short of confirming Obama’s participation.
“I can’t predict anything, but I am sure he wants to help us,” said Ryan.
Obama appeared in a video to speak on behalf of Chicago when the city was campaigning last year for the U.S. Olympic Committee nomination against Los Angeles. And videos used twice in the past month at continental Obama at a June rally for the Chicago bid. (Chicago 2016)Olympic meetings in Asia and the Americas included images of Obama from a bid rally he attended in June.
Without a formal commitment yet from Obama to attend the IOC Session in Copenhagen next October for the 2016 vote, “attitudinally he’s committed”, said Ryan.
“I’d be shocked if he wasn’t there,” said Ryan, barring any crises or other exigencies that would keep Obama away.
Moving forward, Ryan says he expects meeting at some time in the future between Chicago 2016 and the Obama team.
U.S. Representative Rahm Emanuel is said to have been tapped as the chief of staff for Obama’s transition team. The Chicago congressman had been the legislative point person for the bid, so he is well aware of the Olympic effort.
Another member of Obama transition team is Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago executive who serves as vice chair of the Chicago 2016 board of directors. And Mayor Richard Daily, the undisputed king of Chicago politics, easily has the ear of Obama when it comes time to ask for help from the White House for the Olympic bid.
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