Michelle Obama “Uniquely Qualified” – Chicago 2016 CEO

Patrick G. Ryan, Chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, issued a press release on behalf of Chicago’s bid saying “we are very pleased First Lady Michelle Obama will be a lead member of the Official Chicago 2016 Delegation for the upcoming International Olympic Committee Session in Copenhagen, Denmark. We’re honoured and grateful to have the First Lady as part of our delegation and appreciate this unprecedented commitment and expression of support from the White House”.

He added, “as a lifelong Chicagoan, the First Lady is uniquely qualified to share with members of the IOC the passion and enthusiasm of our city for sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Movement”.

Ryan told a press conference Friday afternoon that the First Lady “will be there before (the vote), certainly with enough time to meet with IOC members”, adding, “clearly the first lady will be part of our presentation”.

He said, “I think Michelle Obama will represent our country, our city, our bid in a tremendous way. This vote is not going to be decided by how many political leaders are there; it’s going to be decided on its merits”.

President Barack Obama reportedly told International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge Friday that the fight to pass health insurance reform keeps him from committing at this time to travel to Copenhagen on October 2, but said he will continue to work to support Chicago’s bid.

In a White House press release Mrs. Obama said, “one of the great honours I have as First Lady is to represent America around the world and it is with great pride that I will go to Copenhagen to make the case for the United States to host the 2016 Olympics. There is no doubt in my mind that Chicago would offer the world a fantastic setting for these historic Games and I hope that the Olympic torch will have the chance to burn brightly in my hometown.”

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the President, will accompany the First Lady to Copenhagen. Jarrett said, “as President Obama has said, hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Chicago would be a valuable opportunity for our nation to welcome the world to our shores and strengthen our friendships across the globe. I know that it would serve as a beacon of hope and lift the aspirations of so many young people in Chicago, in America and across the world even higher”.

The United States Olympic Committee issued a press release saying they and the entire U.S. Olympic Family “are extremely grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for the extraordinary support they have provided and continue to provide to the Chicago 2016 bid and to Olympic, Paralympic and youth sport in America.

“Since President Obama has assumed office, the USOC and the bid have felt nothing but complete support. Sending the First Lady to Copenhagen is an unprecedented statement of support”.

Doug Arnot, Chief of Bid Operations for Chicago 2016 said at the press conference Friday, “the luminaries are important, they certainly add a great deal to the session, but I think that the members will select the city that they feel best advances the cause of the Olympic Movement”.