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Obama will lobby for Chicago 2016 bid at Olympic vote

President Obama said Monday he will travel to the IOC meeting in Copenhagen on Oct. 2 to support the Chicago 2016 bid.

In this photo taken on Sept. 21, a tour boat passes under a 2016 Olympic banner spanning the Michigan Ave. bridge in Chicago, one of four sites being considered for the 2106 Games.

Kiichiro Sato/AP

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President Obama and the organizers of the Chicago 2016 bid for the Summer Olympic Games announced that Mr. Obama will, after all, attend the Oct. 2 meeting of the International Olympic Committee at which the 2016 host city will be chosen.

The announcement is a tremendous boost for the Chicago bid, perhaps saving it from what otherwise could have been likely failure.

The heads of state for the other three bid cities – Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo – had all announced their plans to be in Copenhagen for the Oct. 2 vote.

As a result, Obama’s initial decision not to attend could have been fatal for Chicago’s chances. It is likely that the IOC would not have looked favorably on Obama refusing to go the extra mile for a bid from his hometown, regardless of his hectic healthcare reform schedule in Washington.

Indeed, the potentially decisive role that heads of state can play in Olympic bids was underlined four years ago, when experts suggested Paris was a shoo-in as host city for the 2012 Summer Games.

The day before the vote, French President Jacques Chirac was mocking the competition, saying “the only worse food than British food is Finnish” and “the only thing the British have done for Europe's agriculture is mad cow disease.” Meanwhile, British Prime Minister was at the IOC meeting in Singapore lobbying the IOC heavily on London’s behalf.

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