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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mrs. Obama to Copenhagen?

The Olympic bid will be decided on October 2nd in Copenhagen., Denmark. The four finalists Rio, Tokyo, Madrid, and Chicago are all sending in their heavy hitters to make the final pitch. Madrid will be represented by King Carlos. The President of Brazil will represent Rio. Tokyo will be represented by the new Premier, Yukio Hatoyama. Chicago will send in First Lady Michelle Obama?

The odds on Chicago’s Olympic bid just got longer.

Michelle Obama, not the president, will help sell Chicago's bid to the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen next month, the White House announced Friday.
President Barack Obama has decided not to make the trip because of the health care reform, which is bogged down in Congress.

Mr. Obama’s absence could be a major blow to Chicago’s bid with weeks to go before the vote. Heads of state have become an expected part of the bidding process since 2005 when British Prime Minister Tony Blair convinced the IOC to send the 2012 Games to London.

Now, later on in the article an analyst is quoted as "smelling a smoke screen". By this, they believe that the president is planning on showing up but lowering expectations by announcing his wife is coming. I tend to agree. This bid isn't only going to the president's country but his hometown for the better part of the last two decades. Is he really going to slap his home city on the face like this?

The president has supported Chicago's bid for the Olympics longer than he's supported his own bid for the presidency. He's supported its chief sponsor, Richard Daley, long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama outside of Chicago. Now, we're supposed to believe he's going to leave the bid hanging at the last minute.

Now, if in fact he's doing this to lower expectations, the move is brilliant. If everyone expects Michelle Obama to step off the plane, and President Obama steps off the plane with her, then the excitement is ramped up exponentially. President Obama is a major rock star in Europe. The buzz all over Copenhagen will be that President Obama arrived unexpectedly. Suddenly, Chicago's bid becomes the buzz of the event as well.

Now, it's unclear how much, if anything, all of this matters. That's because the bidding process is the most non transparent process I know of. No one knows what the committee is looking for and what they care about. For all we know, all of this is vital and then again, the committee could care less. Either way, in about three weeks we'll all know which city will get the bid.

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