Obama brings the Olympics to the White House
President Obama deeply disappointed his hometown Chicago when he announced that he would not go to Copenhagen next month to personally make the city’s case for hosting the 2016 Olympics, so he and first lady Michelle Obama, who is going in his stead, on Wednesday brought the Olympics to the White House instead.
Former Olympic and paralympic athletes, Chicago officials and local schoolchildren attended the event on the White House lawn, where the president and first lady both spoke and watched judo and gymnastic demonstrations. The president even joined in with some of the athletes, earning a gentle jibe from his wife.
“You should have seen the president in there fencing,” she said. “It was pathetic, but he passed the baton really well.”
Obama said he was too busy working on healthcare reform to travel to Copenhagen on Oct. 2 to lobby the International Olympic Committee, but offered an excuse.
“The good news is I’m sending a more compelling superstar to represent the city and country we love, and that is our first lady, Michelle Obama,” he said.
Michelle Obama is hugely popular — her approval ratings exceed her husband’s, which have sunk as he works to push through his sweeping healthcare plan — and it is speculated that she may make the trip to Copenhagen with Oprah WInfrey, the Chicago talk show host and media magnate who is consistently rated one of the most popular and admired Americans. But proponents of the city’s bid worry they will not be enough, as the other three finalists are all sending their heads of state to make their cases to the IOC.
King Juan Carlos of Spain is traveling to Denmark to argue on behalf of Madrid. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is making the case for Rio. Japan is sending its new prime minister and its royal family for Tokyo, backers of Chicago’s bid note bitterly.
“U.S. organizers have Michelle Obama and are working on Oprah Winfrey — two of the most popular women on the planet,” the Chicago Tribune wrote in an editorial. “Still, it would escape no one’s notice if Barack Obama took a pass on securing the Olympics for his hometown.
“Mr. President, you need to be there,” the newspaper wrote.
PHOTO CREDITS: U.S. President Barack Obama is joined by first lady, Michelle Obama, and Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee (R) as they watch a Judo demonstration during an Olympic Games event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, September 16, 2009 and Obama uses a plastic saber to show his fencing stance. Both from REUTERS/Larry Downing