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The announcement that Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games set off wild celebrations on Copacabana Beach. Today's decision by the International Olympic Committee followed an in-person push by President Obama for his hometown of Chicago. Mr. Obama arrived home from Copenhagen saying he wished he had better news.
President BARACK OBAMA: One of the things that I think is most valuable about sports is that you can play a great game and still not win.
NPR's Cheryl Corley reports from Copenhagen.
CHERYL CORLEY: It took three rounds before IOC President Jacques Rogge ripped open an envelope slowly and made this announcement.
Mr. JACQUES ROGGE (President, International Olympic Committee): Rio de Janeiro.
(Soundbite of cheering)
CORLEY: Chicago had pulled out all the stops for its bid, spending about 50 million in nearly four years. After days of intense lobbying, President Obama flew in to join the city's final presentation today.
Pres. OBAMA: To host athletes and visitors from every corner of the globe is a high honor and a great responsibility. And America is ready and eager to assume that sacred trust.
CORLEY: First lady Michelle Obama would go on to give a passionate account of how she learned about sports from her late father. Despite the personal appeals, the news was brutal for Chicago when the first vote totals came in.
Unidentified Man: The city of Chicago, having obtained the least number of votes, will not participate in the next round.
CORLEY: This was the first time an American president had made an appeal to the IOC. And the Obamas got the bad news while riding back on Air Force One. Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn, who traveled to Copenhagen too, tried to make the best of it.
GGovernor PATRICK QUINN (Democrat, Illinois): You know, there was a lot of teamwork and a lot of people meeting each other and working together on something really big like an Olympic bid, and we want to take all those efforts and make sure we use them for other purposes.
CORLEY: Anita DeFrantz, the American IOC member who was part of the team representing the bid today, called Chicago's ouster horribly disappointing, and said the first round is often risky.
Ms. ANITA DEFRANTZ (American IOC Member): Because sometimes people decide, oh, let's do this for this city so they don't have to go out first. Let's do this for this other city. And when you play that game, the city that you think you're going to vote for later may not be there.
CORLEY: Tokyo was out of the running after the second round of voting. Then Madrid fell out, even though the county's king and Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former chief of the Olympics committee, addressed the group.
Mr. JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH (Former IOC President): I am, as you know, 89 years old. May ask you to consider granting my country the honor and also the duty to organize the games and Paralympic Games in 2016.
CORLEY: Madrid would actually win the first round, but Rio de Janeiro would go on to ultimately win, ending an intense competition among the four bid cities. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had urged the IOC to make Rio the home of the Olympics.
President LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA (Brazil): Among the countries that today compete to host the Games, we are the only one that has never had this honor. For the others, it will be just one more Games. For us, it will be an unparalleled opportunity. It will boost the self-esteem of Brazilians.
CORLEY: At his press conference here, a beaming President Lula said the result was huge for his country.
Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Copenhagen.
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