Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, as he speaks during an event on the Olympics, Paralympics and youth sport on the South Lawn of the White House earlier this month.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, as he speaks during an event on the Olympics, Paralympics and youth sport on the South Lawn of the White House earlier this month. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
President Obama will travel to Denmark this week as part of a direct campaign by the White House to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to Chicago.
The president is scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen on Friday morning, shortly before a U.S. delegation led by first lady Michelle Obama makes its presentation to the voting members of the International Olympic Committee. Both of the Obamas will make personal appeals to the committee, according to a statement released Monday by the White House.
"They will discuss why Chicago is best to host the 2016 Summer Games, and how the United States is eager to bring the world together to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement," the statement said.
The Obamas lived in Chicago before Obama was elected president, and the first lady was born and raised on the city's South Side. He will become the first U.S. president to make a personal appeal to the Olympic committee.
"President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city's most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen," Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement.
The IOC is meeting in Copenhagen to select the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is scheduled to make its selection from a field of four finalists — Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago — later in the day.
The heads of state of Japan, Spain and Brazil are also scheduled to address the Olympic committee.
Japan's new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told the media that he would make a personal appeal to the IOC on behalf of Tokyo. Japan's capital city hosted the first Olympics held in Asia in 1964, and the city has put together an impressive plan to use solar power and environmentally friendly vehicles in the Olympic Village.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will make a pitch for Rio de Janeiro to become the first South American country to host the Olympics.
Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia will head the Spanish delegation, and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will also make an appeal.
At a briefing Monday afternoon, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president made a push for Chicago in meetings at the United Nations and the G-20, and he'll continue to talk to people in an effort to bring the games to the United States.
Gibbs said Obama had no advance assurance that making a personal appeal would ensure Chicago's victory.
Twelve days ago, Obama sounded as though he had ruled out making an appearance in Copenhagen because of his focus on winning support for his health care overhaul, but Gibbs said the president now believes the situation is under control.
"I think the president believes health care is in better shape. I believe he felt strongly and personally that he should go and make the case for the United States, and that's what he's going to do," he said.
Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — who are all from Illinois — will also be joining the president and first lady in Copenhagen.
The Chicago contingent is already packed with stars. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey and 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists will also be pushing for the Windy City.
While in the Danish capital, the Obamas are also scheduled to meet with Denmark's Queen Margrethe, and the president will meet with Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.