An Olympic-Sized Party at the White House

Chicago's mayor and friends are said to be upset the president isn't attending the vote

By Andrew Greiner
|  Wednesday, Sep 16, 2009  |  Updated 11:23 AM PDT
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Chicago 2016 Venue Plans

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President Barack Obama uses a light saber as he watches a demonstration of fencing at an event supporting Chicago's 2016 host city Olympic bid, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. At rear is Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and first lady Michelle Obama.

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Chicago Mayor Richard Daley may be quietly seething that President Obama doesn’t plan to attend the Olympic vote in Copenhagen on October 2, but that didn't stop him from enjoying the White House spotlight today.

Daley and other high profile backers of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid attended the First Couple’s Olympic and Paralympic event today on the White House’s South Lawn.

The event was designed to give a needed boost to the U.S. bid, which is said to be lagging behind Brazil as the favorite to land the games.

A party at the White House, however, might not be enough to get the job down. Olympics officials want the president to go.

The president has agreed to send his wife, Michelle, and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to attend the vote on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

Daley and 2016 Chicago Olympics Chairman Patrick Ryan are said to be angry that the president himself doesn’t plan to attend, even though Daley said there’s still a glimmer of hope that he might show up.

International Olympic Committee members are said to be miffed by the president’s decision, too.

"The risk is, your competitors are going to say 'Oh well, you know, he's too busy to come, but he sent his wife.' How that would play, I don't know," IOC member Dick Pound told the Trib yesterday. 

For Obama, the decision not to go could be a political one. He doesn’t want to be associated too closely with the bid in case it fails.

“If Obama goes to Copenhagen and the bid loses, it presents this problem: Obama sets himself up as a lightning rod to make the United States an equal among equals, rather than a leader among equals,” a source told the Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed.

For complete Chicago Olympic Bid coverage
click here.
 

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