October 1st, 2009
06:34 PM ET
13 years ago

Chicago-Rio Olympic battle 'close as hell'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/01/art.mobamaolym.100109.gi.jpg caption="Chicago-Rio Olympic battle 'close as hell'."]
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CNN) - As First Lady Michelle Obama and talk show host Oprah Winfrey wrapped up a day of furious behind-the-scenes lobbying of International Olympic Committee members here, two sources close to the process tell CNN that the battle between Chicago and Rio is heating up, as the two cities battle to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Madrid and Tokyo are also in the running, but sources close the process said that Chicago and Rio have emerged as the clear frontrunners, and are neck and-neck ahead of President Obama's arrival early Friday for a presentation to the IOC's 105 members, who will be voting later that day.

After a flurry of private conversations among IOC officials here, one of the sources close to the process said bluntly that it's "close as hell" between Chicago and Rio, as both Obama and Brazilian President Lula da Silva plan to make personal appeals to the voters on behalf of their cities on Friday morning.

In a sign of just how ferocious the lobbying is, King Juan Carlos of Spain and new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama are also making personal pitches to the IOC members.

Despite widespread speculation that Obama is only flying all the way to Copenhagen for a four-hour lobbying mission because the White House has gotten a private heads-up that Chicago will win and he should come to claim victory, the sources close to the process insisted that the voting has not been pre cooked - so Obama is swooping in at some political risk, because it is unclear that the U.S. bid will be successful.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who is already here in Copenhagen, has been privately giving the White House positive progress reports about what he's hearing from IOC members who suggest the U.S. bid is in good shape, according to the sources close to the process. But the sources cautioned that Obama and top aides are only cautiously optimistic, and want to wait until the actual voting before they contemplate any celebrations.

Programming Note: CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry is in Copenhagen with President Obama as he makes a personal pitch to the International Olympic Committee for Chicago to be named the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games. Tune in at 11 a.m. ET Friday as Ed discusses this and much more on CNN Radio’s “44 with Ed Henry.”

Filed under: Michelle Obama • Olympics • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (237 Responses)
  1. Kansan

    I think it is red blooded American to want the Olympics on our soil. It is also good business (there is an increase in international trade for the country that hosts the games. The entire country wins. Just like if we hosted a World's Fair. What is with this lack of pride for country and all the anti American chap from the right wingers? You Go Chicago, You Go America, Come on Olympics.

    October 1, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  2. Brenda Goodman

    Chicago has a 700 million dollar deficit. How are they going to pay for this fiasco? By obama slipping in a stimulous for chicago that we will pay for, so that his slum lord friends, like Valerie Jarret can make a killing by selling her ghetto properies for millions and have them torn down at no expense to her Habitat Company. The country should be informed where and how any monies are spent, and by whom.

    October 1, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  3. Dan, TX

    I hope that Olympics will be awarded to Rio and Barack the messiah has to come back empty-handed. He wants to go there to show his radical power. I am sure he will lose.

    October 1, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. Chad

    Obama: You are not in a campaign anymore. Focus on important things. Please just do your job dude!

    October 1, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  5. Nevada dude

    if Obama hadnt gone over there and make a personal appeal then all the GOP haters would have been criticizing him for not loving america enough. The GOP is so stupid i dont even listen to all their squaking any more. know-nothing, do-nothing, useless idiots they are. i can appreciate that obama is out there pulling for the US.

    October 1, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. Geri

    The Obama's call Chicago "home". How much time have they spent there since he took office? Who pays for all the security and wages to have some one sit there & baby sit their house and make life miserable for the rest of the neighborhood. Most of the people overseas don't give a darn about Oprah and Daley and I'm tired of Michelle & Barry being Mr & Mrs Messiah. By the way I'm a democrat!!!!

    October 1, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. Chad

    Well, the corrupt gymnastics judges will fit right in if Chicago gets it. I mean, when Chicago gets it. Obama would not have taken the political risk if he had not known what the outcome would be.

    You libs are so gullible, Obama is playing you for a fool.

    October 1, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  8. jmz

    wow good thing the lord high savior Obama solved the job crisis, health and all the other problems in America. now he can focus on the Olympics. News flash people. The Olympics COST money not generate it. money WE DO NOT HAVE. ask former hostsAnd all thoes koolaiders who think this will generate jobs are fooling themselves. Obama is not a chicago senator anymore. He is the president of the United states(sorry to say). he is supposed to create jobsf or the country NOT his old stomping grounds, and not for 1 city. Actually i change my mind. o commie can fight for the olympics..and when is socialist healthcare plan fails he can blame himself. tho hell prob just cry racism. BORAK OBAMA I PRAY YOU FAIL!! oh and Im from Chitown

    October 1, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  9. m jeff

    America has fought hard for every chance to host the Olympics, don't let the right wing idiots stop 2016.

    October 1, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  10. Tired of Republican Negativity

    Wow, look at all of the republicans rooting against America.

    October 1, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. Fox news Rules cnn Drules

    US hosting the Olympics would be like O is as president...

    a joke

    October 1, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. Lee Elia

    Let's fast forward 10 years.. post Olympics if Chicago wins. Lets put the Over/Under to the number of indictments that are associated to the misappropriations of Olympic money. 15. I 'm taking the over. PRINT IT.

    October 1, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
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