President Barack Obama, perhaps Chicago’s most famous resident, added his global star power to his hometown’s efforts to win the 2016 Olympic Games and made a personal pitch to the International Olympic Committee on behalf of the Windy City.
In a four-minute video message to the IOC, Obama touted Chicago’s diversity and culture, calling it “that most American of American cities.”
“It’s a city where the world’s races, and religions, and nationalities all live and work and play and reach for the American Dream that brought them here; where our civic parades wave the colors of every culture; where our classrooms are filled with the sounds of the world’s languages; and where jazz and rancheras and bhangra can be heard down the street from one another,” Obama said.
The IOC’s Evaluating Commission was in Chicago over the weekend for an official visit to assess the city’s Olympic bid, touring potential venues and event locations.
Chicago is competing with Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro for the games. The IOC will make its decision in October.
Last summer, after Chicago was named a finalist to host the games, then-candidate Obama made a surprise appearance at a rally and said he liked the idea of opening the Olympic ceremonies in his hometown, in the final months of his second term as president.
"In the interest of full disclosure, I have to let you know that in 2016, I'll be wrapping up my second term as president. So I can't think of a better way than to be marching into Washington Park alongside Mayor Daley . . . as president of the United States and announcing to the world, ‘Let the games begin,’” Obama said.
Obama moved to Chicago as an adult and worked as a community organizer. He emphasized his local roots in his pitch to the IOC.
“After your visit, once you discover the Chicago that I know – the city that I made my home, the city where my wife grew up, the city where we raised our daughters just blocks from where these games will be held – I am confident you will discover that you’re already in the perfect host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.
Grant Park, the site of Obama’s Election Night speech to 100,000 supporters, is one venue the city is planning to use for the games.