Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced Friday that First Lady Michelle Obama will join the Chicago 2016 delegation in Copenhagen to help promote the U.S. Olympic bid.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Mayor Daley was interrupted during his press conference Friday when the President himself phoned to explain that he probably wouldn’t be able to attend the Copenhagen election and that Mrs. Obama would make the trip. The decison comes after months of speculation on whether the U.S. leader would help his hometown bid by meeting and greeting International Olympic Committee members prior to the final vote.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and King Juan Carlos of Spain are planning to attend to pitch the bids from their respective nations and newly-elected Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has been asked to attend on behalf of Tokyo along with Crown Prince Naruhito.
Although IOC President Jacques Rogge recently denied that the presence of national leaders boost their bids’ chances of being chosen, their attendance seems to have become a de facto requirement in ensuring success.
Last minute campaigning by Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Former Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were considered essential elements to the success of consecutive campaigns from London and Sochi respectively. Putin further impressed when he spoke to IOC delegates in English, a first for the Russian leader.
In this extremely close four-way race Chicago can use any advantage it can get – and President Obama’s attendance has long been considered their ace-in-the-hole. While the First Lady may be able to make a positive impression – she isn’t the President and there is a risk that the often-sensitive IOC members may feel snubbed.
The President hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of attending himself, and with transportation and a security detail already worked out for Mrs. Obama, a last-minute change-of-heart by the President could make Chicago’s final presentation very memorable.