President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, projecting the highest-ever White House profile in lobbying for the international event.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press Monday morning that Obama will leave Thursday and join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen, where they’ll make the pitch to the International Olympic Committee. Obama would be the first U.S. president to actually appeal in person to the International Olympic Committee for an Olympics event.
The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Copenhagen to select a host city for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago faces tough competition from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.
The White House later formally announced the trip, saying that 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.” The IOC is scheduled to decide the site on Friday.
While in Denmark, the statement said, Obama and his wife also will meet with Queen Margrethe and the president will meet with Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen of Denmark.
Obama, who represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate after serving in the Illinois Legislature, is a longtime supporter of Chicago’s bid. Michelle Obama is a native of the city and he considers it his adopted home town. Obama 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. “Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady.”