Media summit held on Olympics

September 11, 2009 6:23:45 AM PDT
More U.S. Olympic athletes are helping Chicago promote its bid for the 2016 Games. The U.S. Olympic media summit will be held Friday at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. It is basically an opportunity for the media to talk to Olympic athletes.

There will be a Chicago 2016 news conference, that will likely include questions about how President Barack Obama is not yet scheduled to be in Denmark for the big announcement and how it could affect Chicago's bid.

President Obama has been a visible supporter of Chicago's Olympic bid, appearing on videos and attending a Daley Plaza rally last year before his election. Chicago's Olympic organizers hope to use his global influence early next month when the International Olympic Committee makes its decision on who will host the 2016 Games.

In recent years, personal pitches to the IOC by presidents an prime ministers have carried a lot of weight. At this point, a trip to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago is not on the president's schedule, but it's not completely being ruled out.

"I think this country's bid is well represented and seems to be making progress," said Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary.

The White House will send Valerie Jarrett, reassuring IOC members that the city's bid has the full support of the federal government and the people of the United States.

"President Obama has done, I think, four different videos endorsing the bid. I know there have been letters and multiple calls that have been made. They established the Office of Olympics and Paralympics, which demonstrates their commitment going forward," said Larry Probst, U.S. Olympic Committee chairman.

The president will host Chicago's bid team and Olympians at the White House Wednesday.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said Thursday that the race between finalists Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo will likely be decided by "a couple of votes."

Many want President Obama to fight for Chicago's cause in Copenhagen on October 2 ,when the IOC will make the final decision, and believe a presidential appearance from the former Illinois senator will help secure the bid.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday not to hold their breath right now.

"As far as the schedule I had seen, that was not planned," Gibbs said. "Obviously, I anticipate having representatives there."

White House senior advisor and fellow Chicagoan Jarrett also happens to be the vice chair of Chicago's bid committee.

"I think having had his support already has helped our bid. I think having him be part of our presentation has helped. We certainly have wanted him to be there if he can. But we think his support throughout the campaign is what is going to help us the most," said Patrick Sandusky, Chicago 2016 spokesman.

A White House official tells ABC News that the Obamas have their own event in mind stateside on how their can support their home town.

On Wednesday September 16, the president and first lady will be hosting an event with the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport and Chicago 2016 to help promote Chicago's bid for the Olympics, as well as help promote our commitment to healthy living and youth sport.

"There will be Olympic athletes and Paralympic athletes in attendance as well," and administration official says, "This event will help highlight the Obama administration's commitment to giving our nation's children every possible tool they need to grow, learn and succeed in life. A key part of this is increasing access to healthy, constructive activities like sports for our nation's children."

Olympic athletes will be visiting local schools in the morning, and then the president and the first lady at the White House in the afternoon.

However, pressure still remains on Obama to make a presidential appearance in Copenhagen to fight for Chicago.

The White House promised more details ? specifically if the day of October 2 was being held open on the president's schedule in case Obama had to make a last-ditch effort and pitch for his city.

The leaders of Spain, Japan and Brazil have committed to being there in person on Oct. 2 to fight for their cities.


Load Comments