U.S. TV Star Rumored for Copenhagen, Austria Scandal, PyeongChang 2018

(ATR) Speculation builds over whether Oprah Winfrey will go to Copenhagen for Chicago 2016... The speed of the internet challenges the 2016 cities says one bid leader... The furor over spending on Salzburg 2014 grows... Government support for PyeongChang 2018

Oprah Winfrey Possible for Chicago in Copenhagen

Speculation is building that TV talk show host, actress and businesswoman Oprah Winfrey will be a part of the Chicago delegation attending the IOC Session in Copenhagen.

Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky says he cannot confirm Winfrey’s possible participation in Copenhagen.

Last week Winfrey said she would go to Denmark if needed for the Oct 2 IOC vote.

Winfrey is host of a nationally syndicated talk show broadcast daily from Chicago and is considered one of the most influential members of the media in the U.S.

In April, she sat next to Nawal El Moutawakel, chair of the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2016 Games at the gala dinner for the IOC panel during their visit to Chicago.

Two other women of influence have already signed-on to the Copenhagen trip for Chicago: First Lady Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama and former vice chair of the Chicago bid.

While he hasn’t ruled it out completely, President Obama is not expected to travel to Copenhagen.

On Wednesday, the Obamas host an Olympic-bid related event at the South Lawn of the White House.

Planting Trees in Rio de Janeiro

Rio 2016 will host a ceremony at the Botanical Gardens on Sept. 21 to plant 45,000 trees as part of the effort to offset the bid's carbon emissions. A few hundred trees were planted earlier in the campaign. Gov. Sergio Cabral and Mayor Eduardo Paes will attend the ceremony.

Internet Makes Things Difficult for Bid Cities

Madrid 2016 CEO Mercedes Coghen suggests “the immediacy of the internet” put bid cities at a disadvantage when the IOC released its Evaluation Commission report on the four candidate cities Sep. 2.

The report was released on the internet without any advance copies for the bid cities. The four bid cities were forced to read the document at the same time as the media and the public.

“The report came, and in two minutes there were headlines. It was impossible to have read our report, the comparisons, the other three [Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo] in-depth reports,” she tells reporter Ignacio Romo of Publico in an interview.

“It gave us no time before appearing before the press. I found it unfair and that was sad,” said Coghen.

Coghen calls the IOC report “bittersweet” for its combination of praise and criticism of the Madrid bid. All of the bids garnered pluses and minuses in the IOC report.

She said some officials in Madrid, hearing first only the negative points raised in the report, “looked like they were at a funeral”.

Prime Minister Backs South Korea Winter Bid

South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung Soo says Pyeongchang can count on the full support of government in its bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"As seen through the past two campaigns, PyeongChang is fully prepared to host a highest-level Olympics," said Han.

"The government will give its full support to make it happen this time,” he was quoted as saying in the Korea Times.

Han, who served as chair of the 2014 bid from PyeongChang, made the pledge as the bid committee held its inaugural meeting in Seoul on Monday.

The committee is led by Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho and Gangwon Province Governor Kim Jin-sun. Kim served as executive chairman in PyeongChang's two failed bids for 2014 and 2010.

According to the Korea Times, the committee is made up of 76 members with 10 special advisors, including IOC member Lee Kun-hee and FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon.

"I have a heavy responsibility as chairman," Cho said. "I will make the most of my capabilities to help make PyeongChang the host of the Winter Olympics."

The Korean city faces competition from Munich, Germany and Annecy, France. The northeastern Chinese city of Harbin may also announce its intentions to enter the bid race in the coming month.

The IOC has set Oct. 15 as the deadline for applications for the 2018 bid race. The IOC Session convening in Durban, South Africa in July 2011 will select the host city.

Scandal Costs Austria Dreams of Olympic Bids Says Minister

An ongoing investigation into how the Austrian Olympic Committee spent large sums of money bidding for the 2014 Winter Olympics will cost the country a shot at bidding to host the Olympics “for a long time”.

That’s the assessment of Austrian Sports Minister Norbert Darabos, who made the comments on public television on Sunday.

The investigation centered on lobbyist Erwin Roth, and how he received money from the AOC, with no clear record of how the money was spent. The top two executives of the AOC, president Leo Wallner and secretary general Heinz Jungwirth both have resigned over the controversy.

Darabos said “I feel upset because of the sums of money which might have vanished. Obviously we can forget about Olympic bids for a long time now.”

He called for greater oversight over sporting bodies including more “transparency and clarification” from the AOC regarding its finances.

Figures released last week by an Austrian newspaper show that monies were paid to consultants for the Salzburg bid, such as marketing consultant Michael Payne and bid consultant George Hirthler. And the total amount spent by Salzburg to bid for 2014 probably was less than half what was spent by rivals PyeongChang and Sochi, the winning bid.

Despite the fears about Darabos that the Olympics won’t touch Austria for a while, it should be noted that the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games will take place in Innsbruck.

Innsbruck hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.

Written by Ed Hula.