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September 29, 2009

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Obama bats for Chicago's Olympic bid

UNITED States President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will travel to Denmark this week to support Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Copenhagen to select a host city for the 2016 Games.

Chicago is competing against Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

Obama will be the first US president to play such a direct role in lobbying for an Olympic event.

The White House said Obama and his wife "will both make presentations to the IOC during Friday's session. They will discuss why Chicago is best to host the 2016 Summer Games, and how the United States is eager to bring the world together to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement."

In Denmark the couple also will meet with Queen Margrethe and the president will meet with Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

Longtime support

Obama, who represented Illinois in the US Senate after serving in the Illinois Legislature, is a longtime supporter of Chicago's bid. He and Michelle consider it their adopted hometown, and he recently sent letters to selected IOC members, promising a "spectacular Olympic experience for one and all."

"President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city's most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen," Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement.

The president had held off on announcing a trip to Copenhagen, saying his first priority was the ongoing debate in Washington over health care reform.

But with heads of state representing Rio, Tokyo and Madrid already scheduled to attend Friday's IOC vote, Chicago's bid organizers had hoped Obama would make an in-person appeal.


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