Olympics 2008 Features
(eca159): Crushing blow for Obama's Chicago in Olympic vote (News Feature)
By John Bagratuni Oct 2, 2009, 19:05 GMT
Copenhagen - Rio de Janeiro romped home to win the right to host the 2016 Olympics while Barack Obama's Chicago was dealt a crushing blow by the International Olympic Committee on Friday.
The IOC Session eliminated Chicago in the first round of voting despite a passionate speech from the US president and Chicago-born First Lady Michelle Obama before the IOC earlier Friday.
Obama was already on his way back to Washington when the IOC first eliminated Chicago and then Tokyo in the first two rounds before Rio de Janeiro beat Madrid to host the Games.
Obama failed to follow in the footsteps of then British PM Tony Blair and Russian ex-president Vladimir Putin, who were instrumental in getting the 2012 Games to London and 2014 winter edition to Sochi, respectively.
Obama was the first US president at a candidate city presentation before the IOC, and pleaded the case of his adopted home town.
'I came here as a passionate supporter of the Olympics and Paralympics ... and as a proud Chicagoan ... America is ready and eager to assume that sacred trust,' he said.
'Together, we can,' was the slogan in one video excerpt, drawing on Obama's famous words 'Yes, we can.'
Chicago-born Michelle Obama talked passionately about her youth in the city, her late father and his love for sports, and what Olympics could do to the city.
'Today I am dreaming of Olympics to light up lives in the US and around the world,' she said.
IOC members said they felt honoured by Obama's presence as he also took time to talk with them after the Chicago pitch.
'Obama added a lot to the prestige of the Olympic Movement. His presence here gives us a lot of satisfaction,' IOC member Nicole Hoevertsz told German Press Agency dpa ahead of the vote.
But she also said 'It would be very sad if we let ourselves get impressed by such an important politician. Obviously Obama has an impact, but I don't know whether that will influence the final decision. We are trying to reach a very well-balanced decision.'
Chicago then failed just like New York for the 2012 Games. The US has hosted eight Olympics overall, the last editions being the badly run 1996 Games in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter edition in Salt Lake City overshadowed by a bribes for votes scandal.
'The bottom line is that Rio de Janeiro was the sentimental favourite. Never has the Olympics been held in South America and this was their opportunity to do it,' said governor Pat Quinn:
Chicago bid chief Pat Ryan said: 'I am sorry that we didn't bring home a victory.'
For Obama, the five-hour adventure in Denmark came to no avail as the opposition will now link him with the Olympic failure when it comes to difficult items such as US health care reform and the war in Afghanistan.
Obama had initially not committed himself to going to Copenhagen, stating a busy schedule. Others suggested that he was to be spared a possible defeat in Copenhagen.
The speeches of the Obamas stood out in Chicago's pitch which was inferior to Rio's passion and not more than on equal terms with the presentations of Tokyo and Madrid.
Rio and Chicago had been rated joint favourites and German IOC vice-president Thomas Bach looked lost in disbelief when the numbers were printed out and he moved the sheet of paper to Rogge for the announcement that the 'windy city' was out.