Obama: Let the Games begin

September 16, 2009 (CHICAGO) "Let the Games begin right here in the United States of America," said Obama.

The president and Michelle Obama hosted a White House pep rally on Wednesday for Chicago's Olympic bid.

Chicago's Olympic bid got the equivalent of a presidential bear hug on Wednesday at a high-profile event meant to send a message to some very specific people.

President Obama playfully jousts with the First Lady while watching demonstrations of fencing and other Olympic sports on the South Lawn of the White House. Sports, the President says he hopes will be played in his hometown n 2016.

"Chicago is ready, America is ready. We want these Games!" said Obama.

The President's message, while broadcast to the world, is truly targeted at roughly 100 people: the voting members of the International Olympic Committee.

"I'm confident they'll find no greater partners than city of Chicago and the American people to fuel this moment, ignite it for new generations and inspire the world in 2016," said Obama.

Mr. Obama said he thinks the health care debate will keep him from personally pitching the IOC in Copenhagen. Michelle Obama will make the trip, her first official solo overseas journey since becoming First Lady. She says her push will be personal.

"Barack and I would feel such pride in seeing the torch burn in our city and I'm proud to go to Copenhagen to make the case for my hometown," said Michelle Obama.

"She'll be able to answer questions, meet with all the delegates. They'll be honored to meet… she'll give them the commitment of the United States," said Mayor Daley.

"The fact he would send his #1 ambassador is a great sign of commitment," said Bob Ctvrtlik, US Olympic Committee.

Commitment. It's a word you hear a lot these days because Chicago's bid team needs to show the IOC that America and its policies will help not hinder the Olympic movement. White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett will join Mrs. Obama in Copenhagen to send that message.

"President Obama, we have a new president and First Lady, who are from Chicago and as you heard him say today, we are eager to host the Games welcome them to our shores," said Jarrett.

Olympians, Paralympians participate in event

A group of Olympians and Paralympians also participated in the White House event. Some of them, including Track and Field Star Jackie Joyner Kersee visited area schools.

Kersee, a Gold Medalist from downstate East Saint Louis, told students the choices they make now about their diets and whom they hang out with will affect their futures. She said she's excited at the thought the Olympics could end up in her home state.

"I just think it would be great, you know, for the country. And then to be able to showcase what the Midwest has to offer. I just think that we have a wonderful bid, have a great team and now its just off to the voters to pull it off," said Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic athlete.

The athletes who were at the White House:

  • Jackie Joyner Kersee- Track and Field
  • Dominique Dawes- Gymnastics
  • Arlene Limas- Taekwondo
  • Henry Cejudo- Wrestling
  • Ryan Reiser- Judo
  • Michael Conley- Track and Field
  • Bob Pickens- Wrestling
  • Bob Ctvrtlik- Volleyball
  • Anita Defranz (US IOC member) - Rowing
  • Tim Morehouse- Fencing
  • Jair Lynch - Men's Gymnastics
  • Linda Mastendrea- Track Field
  • Hope Lewellen- Sitting Volleyball and Wheelchair tennis
  • April Holmes- Track and Field
  • Jerrod Fields- Track and Field
  • Myles Porter- Judo

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