U.S. President Barack Obama is heading to Copenhagen to campaign for Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. First lady Michelle Obama is already in Copenhagen, making the case for her home city.
President Obama is making an overnight flight to the Danish capital, and will speak on behalf of the U.S. bid early Friday, before voting members of the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC votes Friday on which city will host the 2016 Summer Games, Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo or Rio de Janeiro.
The president's wife, Michelle Obama, arrived in Copenhagen Wednesday, and has been meeting one-on-one with IOC members to try to advance Chicago's bid.
Mrs. Obama grew up on the city's South Side, near where most of the Olympic venues would be.
"Everything about this bid speaks to what this city has to offer," said Michelle Obama. "Having the games right along that beautiful, glorious lakefront. Using the existing park structure to ensure that we are making the kinds of investments and will have the kind of wonderful leave-behinds that will benefit the city over the long run."
In addition to the president and first lady, Chicago has enlisted several other prominent Americans. Television star Oprah Winfrey is also in Copenhagen to lobby for the city where she hosts her popular talk show.
"They just asked that I show up and be friendly, so that is not very hard for me," said Oprah Winfrey.
And basketball hall of famer David Robinson, a member of the 1992 gold medal-winning U.S. "Dream Team," is also putting in a word for Chicago.
"This is not about Chicago, and this is not about the United States," said David Robinson. "This is about the honor of hosting the world. And this is about giving a platform for every athlete in every story to be told."
Mr. Obama is the first U.S. president to lobby the IOC in person for an Olympic bid. Some critics, such as House of Representatives Minority Leader John Boehner, say the president could find a better use of his time.
"The president is going to go to Copenhagen when we've got serious issues here at home that need to be debated," said John Boehner.
Spain has sent two representatives to lobby for Madrid, King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is campaigning for Tokyo. And Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is promoting Rio's bid. Mr. Obama will be the first of the four to make his case.
IOC member Ung Chang says each country's final presentation could make the difference.
"Last presentation, "said Ung Chang. "Last presentation, that is important."
The winner is expected to be announced Friday, around 16 hours 30 universal time.
Obama to Campaign For Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid