Wednesday 17 June 2009

Chicago 2016: 'Yes we will!'

Barack Obama's presidential campaign slogan has been hijacked. But one can imagine he won't object to the famous phrase being modified if it helps the city of Chicago land the 2016 Olympics.

'Yes we can' were Obama's words; 'Yes we will' declared bid chief executive Pat Ryan after his team made a crucial presentation to IOC members this morning.

Ryan said: 'Yes we will. We will deliver extraordinary games. We will bring new energy and resources from the US in the service of the Olympic Movement. We will make a lasting impact on the youth of our country and, we believe, the world.'

It was the most dramatic of declarations in a half-hour full of dramatic declarations.

The city's mayor Richard Daley said the 2016 Olympics represented 'an opportunity to change the course of history' and could 'change the course of people's lives.'

The biggest surprise was that Obama wasn't part of the Chicago pitch to voters, the bid team sticking strictly to the IOC's advice about avoiding video messages from heads of states.

Rio are said to have no such concerns, with Brazil president Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva expected to appear in this afternoon's presentation. Tokyo and Madrid will also present.

Chicago have prepared a public private partnership model to battle the threat of troubled finances and Ryan was at pains to point out that the whole world was suffering a financial meltdown, not just the US.

Like all Olympic bids, the US effort ticked the boxes: committing to huge public support for the bid, detailing how the world's children will benefit from the games, speaking of the rich long-term legacy and assuring everyone of government support.

More significant perhaps was the creation today of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport. Never before has the USA had a minister for sport.

Chicago 2016 said: 'This permanent White House office will promote the values of the Olympic Movement and encourage increased youth participation in athletics. The primary function of the Office will be to enhance awareness of the Olympic Movement through promotion of its fundamental principles at the federal level.'

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