Washington Report

Updates from Capitol Hill

Chicago Eliminated From Olympic Bid Despite Obama Lobbying

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Despite an extraordinary lobbying effort to bring the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games to Chicago by both the president and first lady, as well as local luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, who traveled to Copenhagen where the International Olympic Committee is meeting, the city was eliminated in the first round. Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo were also contenders. Rio won.

Those of a betting nature were banking on either Chicago or Rio winning the 2016 bid, but the Olympics have never been held in South America, which likely gave the city an edge.

On Thursday, Michelle Obama made a very emotional appeal to the committee, and recalled growing up watching Olympic games with her father, who later was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“Some of my best memories are sitting on my dad’s lap, cheering on Olga and Nadia, Carl Lewis, and others for their brilliance and perfection,” she said. “If he could have seen the Paralympic Games share a global stage with the Olympic games, if he could have witnessed athletes who compete and excel and prove that nothing is more powerful than the human spirit, I know it would have restored in him the same sense of unbridled possibility that he instilled in me.”

The president, in his pitch for his adopted hometown, said, “I know you face a difficult choice among several great cities and nations with impressive bids of their own.  So I’ve come here today to urge you to choose Chicago for the same reason I chose Chicago nearly 25 years ago — the reason I fell in love with the city I still call home.”

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