People in the streets of Copenhagen are buzzing about the events taking place in their city this week – well at least the streets that are not blocked or shut down to accommodate the traveling dignitaries. But the murmur isn’t about the bids or the historic Olympic Congress – it’s all about the stars and the dignitaries that have become part of the package.
Today, local newspaper front pages and television top stories feature pictures of American First Lady Michelle Obama and Televison Queen Oprah Winfrey. Readers got a glimpse of Oprah shopping and signing autographs while Michelle Obama’s image was captured upon her arrival at the airport. Along with those, other pages were splashed with candid photos of basketball great David Robinson, gymnastic legend Nadia Comaneci and runner Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Do you notice a theme? It seems that only the “stars” of Chicago’s bid are receiving huge media attention. Not only that, many on the streets aren’t entirely sure why the dignitaries are here. Today one taxi driver, upon noticing the media credentials hanging around my neck, asked me if I was “going to that thing with the President tomorrow.”
Michelle Obama’s arrival Wednesday was worthy of about three hours of “breaking news” streaming across the screen of a local news channel.
But more importantly, does this infatuation with the celebrities exist among the IOC members?
Consider this. At the Opening Ceremonies Thursday at the Copenhagen Opera House – after all of the attendees including world leaders, sports leaders and royalty had taken their seats – Michelle Obama’s motorcade arrived and she was escorted into the event and into her seat. All eyes were fixed on the First Lady with an odd mix of a calming sense of awe, and excitement over the dress she chose to wear. Oprah who?
Clearly, the Chicago 2016 bid committee must have been elated; and the other bid delegations could only sit there and try to smile.
Now, cue the President. Reports of no-fly zones and rail closures in the Copenhagen vicinity have people guessing at what moment the U.S. leader will arrive, rumoured to be some time overnight or Friday morning. And they are ready; “Copenhagen Loves Obama” T-Shirts are readily available on many street corners – buy 2 and get one free.
Also, in the news details of President Barack Obama’s visit have been outlined in great detail including diagrams of Air Force One, Navy One and his high tech limousine “The Beast”.
Will the Obama’s attendance for the Olympic bid presentation make a difference in the election? I think it already has.
Rob Livingstone is the producer of GamesBids.com and has been closely following the Olympic bid process for 20 years. He will be blogging through the final days before the election on October 2. Rob will bring you first-hand observations from the scene in Copenhagen. Follow him on Twitter.