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Chicago Will Make Case For 2016 Games

From the Associated Press:

Chicago and three other cities vying for the 2016 Summer Games will make their case Friday to the regional group with the most votes in the Olympic movement.

Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro also will make presentations to the general assembly of the European Olympic Committees, which represents 50 countries and holds the balance of power in the Olympics.

A video message from President-elect Barack Obama, taped since his election victory, is expected to be included in Chicago's 20-minute pitch. Obama, who lives in Chicago, delivered his acceptance speech before a huge crowd in Grant Park, a centerpiece of the city's Olympic bid.

"President-elect Obama's election has put a bright spotlight on Chicago," bid leader Patrick Ryan said Thursday. "The fact that he is managing the transition from Chicago continues to put a spotlight on Chicago, and we look forward to his continued support."

The audience of 500 delegates is expected to include between 20 and 25 voting members of the International Olympic Committee, EOC president Patrick Hickey said.

The full IOC will select the host city in a secret ballot on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen, Denmark. But the campaign is already in full swing as the cities prepare to submit their final bid documents to the IOC in February.

Bid officials have made presentations to regional Olympic groups in Acapulco, Mexico, and Bali, Indonesia, but the European meeting offers the best opportunity to get their message to key constituents.

IOC president Jacques Rogge, a Belgian and former head of the European body, will be among those in attendance. More than a third of the IOC's 100-plus members are from Europe.

Bid officials will attempt to convince voters that they offer financially secure bids that can weather the global financial crisis.

New York was soundly defeated in its bid for the 2012 Games, but Obama has been a high-profile backer of the Chicago bid. He lives a few blocks from the planned 2016 Olympic stadium.

The Chicago 2016 committee is counting on Obama to attend next year's IOC meeting in Copenhagen to personally push for the bid.

Chicago's rivals are adjusting to the Obama factor. Rio is even using his "Yes, we can" and emphasis on "change" from his presidential campaign to explain why the Olympics should go to Brazil and South America for the first time.

"We also have a need for change in the Olympic movement," Rio bid president and Brazilian Olympic committee chief Carlos Nuzman said. "The Olympic movement needs to go to all regions of the world. South America is home to 400 million people, and one-third are young people. The Olympic movement is ready for a historic change."

Rio, which hosted the 2007 Pan American Games, says Brazil will have the world's fifth largest economy by 2016.

Madrid, which finished third behind winner London and Paris in the vote for the 2012 Olympics, portrayed the Spanish capital as the "safest choice for 2016" in light of the economic downturn. Bid officials said 77 percent of the venues are ready.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics and was highly rated in IOC technical evaluations, said the Japanese government's $100 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund indicated the games would be financially secure.

"Tokyo 2016 -- with its responsible budget -- will host a games that is insulated against the ill effects of the global economic downturn," the bid officials said in a statement.

By Amy Shipley  |  November 20, 2008; 4:09 PM ET
Categories:  2016 Games  
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