Going for the Gold

What a race: the Obamas and Oprah, together again, pushing for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid. I was impressed to hear that Michelle was traveling to Copenhagen for the International Olympic Committee’s final vote between Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. Then the President decides to come too? AND Oprah?! Their key weapon in the early days of election campaign? With that power trio behind the city, how could Chicago lose?!

It’s true that Rio’s bid also looks attractive: they’ve never hosted before, and PelĂ© is making the rounds in Denmark. An actual Olympian!

And I’ve learned that these IOC votes are full of suspense, and surprises. Back in 2005, when London and Paris were vying for the honor of hosting the 2012 summer games, the public and the media in France and in Britain seemed convinced that Paris would seal to deal.

But London really worked it. Tony Blair mingled and schmoozed the IOC members, Ken Livingstone, London’s mayor at the time, made the bid a priority, and a hard-core lobby group, including a former Olympian (Sebastian Coe) and an impressive American (Barbara Cassani).

So London won, even as sceptics questioned whether the aging transport system could handle the influx of visitors, and whether the planned sporting complexes in East London would be ready (and paid for) in time.

At least the Obamas’ push comes at a time when Chicago needs some positive publicity, after the horrific killing of the honor student this week.

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