President Obama attempted to sound upbeat after returning from Copenhagen with a loss for the Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.
“One of the things that I think is most valuable about sports is that you can play a great game and still not win,” Obama said to reporters on the South Lawn just a few minutes after he landed from Copenhagen. “And so, although I wish that we had come back with better news from Copenhagen, I could not be prouder of my hometown of Chicago.”
The president congratulated Rio de Janeiro and noted the significance of their win.
“I think this is a truly historic event as these will be the first Olympic Games ever to be held in South America. And as neighbors in the Americas, as friends to the Brazilian people, we welcome this extraordinary sign of progress and the fact that the 2016 games will be in the Americas.”
The president said he spoke on the phone with President Lula of Brazil and offered up his congratulations for their win as well as a healthy dose of competition for the 2016 games.
“(I) told him that our athletes will see him on the field of competition in 2016,” Obama joked.
The president thanked those who helped made the Chicago bid happen, and the delegation that was sent to Copenhagen to fight -- among them his wife, Michelle Obama, Oprah, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, Chicago’s Mayor Daly, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, among others.
“They put in their heart and soul into this bid. I have no doubt that it was the strongest bid possible, and I'm proud that I was able to come in and help make that case in person.”
Not expressing regret in his quick overnight trip to Copenhagen, the president said that it is “always a worthwhile endeavor” to promote and boost the United Sates, regardless of the outcome.
“We obviously would have been eager to host these games, but, as I said, this nation and our athletes are still very much excited to compete in 2016. And we once again want to just say how much we are committed to the Olympic spirit, which I think represents some of the best of humanity.”
The decision from the International Olympic Committee was announced while Mr. and Mrs. Obama were on Air Force One flying from Copenhagen back to Washington D.C. President Obama watched the decision come back via satellite on TV aboard his plane.
-- David Wright, Sunlen Miller and Jordyn Phelps