Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama Administration Carries the Torch for Chicago 2016

We've been watching the 2016 Olympic bidding process closely and one of the biggest stories so far is President Obama's role in Chicago's bid. Many internal and external observers have mentioned how important he is to Chicago's chances. Yesterday, the political blog, Politco, had a lengthy article on Obama's relationship with the bid. If you're interested in this angle of the Olympic story we highly recommend that you read this link.

The article goes onto to explain how intertwined the Chicago 2016 bid is with Obama's administration:
Four of the five co-chairs of Obama’s inaugural committee have unpaid leadership roles in the Chicago bid, including Pat Ryan, the chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016; John Rodgers, the treasurer and director of Chicago 2016; Penny Pritzker, the hotel heiress who led Obama’s meteoric presidential campaign fundraising; and Bill Daley, the former Clinton administration commerce secretary and brother of the Chicago mayor.
The biggest association came when the Obama administration named Valerie Jarret (a prominent Chicagoan who made the jump to Washington DC with Obama) to a special role to help aide communication and coordination within multiple federal agencies:
Tapping Jarrett, a longtime Chicago friend and a top adviser who was cleared by administration ethics lawyers to lead the effort, put the Obama administration’s imprimatur on what had been a mostly unofficial push by Obama’s Chicago inner circle to bring the games to its hometown.
At the end of the day, this all comes down to wooing IOC members and from the sounds of it Obama's star is shining a bright and favorable light on Chicago's bid. Politco interviewed an Egyptian IOC member and guess who she will vote for in Copenhagen when the IOC convenes to decide which city will host the 2016 games:
Rania Elwani, an IOC member from Egypt who said she adores Obama and has a picture of him on her refrigerator, said the president’s support for Chicago’s bid would definitely have an impact on her vote.
With linking the bid so closely to Obama, the Chicago bid team has to be careful. Regardless, at this point it might be to late:
Chicago 2016 officials have alternated between predicting Obama’s attendance (in Copenhagen for the IOC vote) and trying to manage expectations — and nearly every IOC member interviewed for this story warned it might hurt the bid if Obama did not make the trip.
After all this planning, all this build-up and all this money spent, does it simply come down to whether or not Obama goes to Copenhagen?

We would be shocked if he doesn't make the trip. If he does our guess is that Chicago wins. If he doesn't, chance are that we will be watching beach volleyball on the beautiful beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

(Image from Matt Wuerker: Politico Website)
(Hat Tip: Wally B - "The Spray Painting Bandit")

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