The most famous Chicagoan in the world will be lending his full support for the city's Olympic bid after all. In a last-minute reversal, Barack Obama reportedly will attend the IOC's bid meeting on Friday to give a boost to his adopted city's pursuit of the 2016 Olympics.
Obama had said for weeks that he would not make the trip to Denmark, citing his pursuit of health care reform as the main reason. His wife, Michelle, was supposed to go in his stead. But this morning on The Today Show, Savannah Guthrie reported that aides close to the president said said he will make the trek to Copenhagen to attend the meeting on Friday in an attempt to win support for Chicago'spursuit of the Games.
Each of the four bid cities will make a 70-minute presentation to IOC members who will vote on the site later that day. Obama's presence at the meeting is thought to have the potential to sway a few votes.
This late announcement is a great bit of showmanship for Obama and the Chicago bid. One one hand, Obama is merely keeping up with the Joneses. All the other leaders of potential host countries had long ago announced their plans to attend the meeting. But the flair with which Obama announced his intentions -- generating rampant speculation about his travel plans, making headlines this morning by announcing his decision to go -- is a major publicity coup for Chicago's bid.
It's a deft political maneuver made at the perfect time. Because Chicago is considered one of the favorites to land the Games, Obama's decision could sway the one or two votes necessary to push the Olympics in the city's favor. All it may take is one voter, changing his or her mind on Friday because they were pleased to see the president.
Politically though there is still the possibility of political backfire. What if Obama makes the trip and Chicago still loses out to Rio de Janeiro or Madrid? And what if people in the city or country don't want the Games to come back to America. Does this provide more ammunition for critics?
Critics never need ammunition, they have plenty of it as is. Supporting the Olympics is about as politically neutral as it gets. Red state or blue state, people love the Games and, in general, Chicago getting the '16 Olympics would be a popular move. Now, with Barack Obama attending the IOC's vote, the chances of the Games coming back to the United States are better than ever.