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October 2, 09

NEWS / The Obamas Visit Copenhagen to Support Chicagos Olympic Bid

Chicago aiming to host 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games

By Lauren Monsen
Staff Writer

Washington — President Obama will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, to support Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games at the 121st International Olympic Committee Session, according to the White House.

The president will depart Washington on October 1, arriving in Copenhagen on the morning of October 2 just before Chicago’s presentation to the IOC voting members. He will join his wife, Michelle Obama, who arrived in Copenhagen on September 30. Mrs. Obama is leading the U.S. delegation to the IOC session.

As a Chicago native, Mrs. Obama is an enthusiastic proponent of her hometown’s qualifications to host the 2016 Olympic Games. “I can tell you, personally, what makes Chicago the ideal home for the 2016 Games, and I’m very excited to be able to do that in Copenhagen,” she told guests at a White House event September 16. “It’s not just the infrastructure or the resources of the city, [or] … the excellent public transportation and the accommodations. What makes Chicago such a great host is its people.”

Chicago is one of four cities competing to host the 2016 Games. The others in contention are Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Both President and Mrs. Obama will make presentations to the IOC, offering their views on why Chicago is ideally suited to host the 2016 Games — and describing, in particular, how Chicago’s ethnic and cultural diversity make the city a logical place to bring the world together to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement.

While in Copenhagen, the president and first lady will meet with Queen Margrethe II and the queen’s husband, Prince Henrik. The president will also meet with Prime Minister Lars Lřkke Rasmussen.

Appearing before aspiring Olympic athletes at the White House on September 16, the president said: “The United States is eager to welcome the world to our shores. This nation would be honored to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and to serve as host to thousands of athletes and millions of visitors from around the world. And within this great country of ours, there is no better city than Chicago, Illinois.”

That same day, the president announced the formation of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport, which will promote the values of the Olympic movement and encourage youth participation in athletics. The office’s primary function is to enhance awareness of the Olympic movement through promotion of its fundamental principles at the federal level.

“It is an important goal of my administration to give our nation’s children every possible tool they need to grow, learn and succeed in life,” Obama said. “Too many American kids, particularly those in urban areas, have no access to organized sporting activities. Sports are an important way to instill values, judgment and teamwork in our nation’s kids, and this new office reflects our commitment to giving all our children a chance to thrive. As the International Olympic Committee moves forward with their selection process, we hope that this new office can serve as a model for youth involvement worldwide.”

Chicago is well equipped to host the 2016 Games, he added. The president hailed Chicago as a dynamic metropolis that “opened the way westward in the 19th century, showed the way skyward in the 20th century and … is leading the way forward in the 21st century,” as evidenced by its strong commitment to the environment. It is “a city of bustle and gleaming promise” that its mayor “has pledged to make the greenest in America,” Obama said. Moreover, Chicago’s accommodations for the 2016 Games “exist within minutes of the city center, easily accessible to commerce and culture, parkland and water — because we don’t want these venues to be far-flung, all over the place,” he said. “We want to host these Games where we live and work and play.”

Although he resides in Washington now, Obama said, “I’ve called Chicago home for nearly 25 years. It’s a city of broad shoulders and big hearts and bold dreams; a city of legendary sports figures, legendary sports venues and legendary sports fans; a city like America itself, where … the world’s races and religions and nationalities come together and reach for the dream that brought them here.”

In her own remarks, Mrs. Obama expanded on that theme. “If you want to see a truly international city, there’s no place like Chicago,” she said. “It is home to [people from] more than 130 countries, speaking more than 100 different languages.” So even athletes “traveling halfway around the world to get to Chicago … might find that they have more of a home-court advantage than they might even think when they come to this city.”

Earlier, Mrs. Obama said, “I hope that the Olympic torch will have the chance to burn brightly in my hometown.”




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