Olympics exec. director talks to ABC7

March 26, 2009 5:18:44 AM PDT
The man who runs the Olympics talks publicly for the first time about the race for the 2016 Games. The interview comes just days before he visits Chicago to evaluate the city as a potential host.

Gilbert Felli, executive director of the Olympic Games, is in Denver for a meeting of the International Olympic Committee.

It is essentially the trade show of the Olympic movement. And on Tuesday night, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was working Chicago's booth.

"We want to welcome them back to America," said Daley.

The 2016 contenders are all assembled in Denver.

The mayor is chatting up IOC members. Madrid, Rio and Tokyo are doing the same. All are trying to give Olympic decision makers insight into their city.

At an evening rehearsal, ABC7 learned President Barack Obama is part of a new video Chicago's bid team will show Thursday when each city has 30 minutes to make its case. Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee will also add Olympic star power.

"It gives us a great opportunity to reinvest in the city, the entire city, and to reinvest in American and encourage people to come back and visit America," said Daley.

"A lot of cities want to bid, it's some reason. It's some benefit," said Felli.

In his first interview about the 2016 race, the man who runs the Olympic Games tells ABC7 the IOC understands concerns about cost over-runs.

The IOC Evaluation Commission may meet with groups opposed to the Olympics in Chicago during a visit in early April.

"When you have a project like this one, not everybody will get the benefit, but the general benefit was the reason why the cities are bidding," said Felli.

A revenue-sharing dispute has a lot of international committee members uneasy, even angry with the United States. Those are issues that Chicago can't control but issues that may end up influencing opinions even more than Thursday's presentations.

Look for more of Ben Bradley's reports from Denver on Thursday on ABC7 news starting at 6 p.m.