- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009


Chicago’s dreams of Olympic glory ended Friday afternoon, as Rio De Janeiro claimed the rights to host the 2016 Summer Games, dealing a blow to President Obama and marking the first time the international athletic competition will be held in South America.

Despite an impassioned plea from President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, the International Olympic Committee gave Chicago the fewest votes in the first round of voting during its session in Copenhagen, stunning supporters who believed the president’s adopted hometown was one of the favorites to win.

Rio De Janeiro edged out Madrid in the final round of voting to win the rights to host the games. Tokyo placed third and Chicago last.

Mr. Obama, still aboard Air Force One while returning from Copenhagen, is “disappointed” but not sorry he took his trip, press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Mr. Gibbs earlier joked with reporters about whether the president would speak with them after the vote was announced.

“Depends on what that decision is,” he said.

The news of Chicago’s early ouster was not good for Mr. Obama, political analysts said.

“I think this is instructive about how seriously the international community takes President Obama,” said John Feehery, a former aide to Republican Dennis Hastert. “It seems they don’t take him very seriously.”

Mr. Feehery, a Chicago native, said the president’s decision to “desperately swoop to dramatically save the Olympic bid backfired.”

The president’s senior political adviser, David Axelrod, also described the situation as “disappointing” but said he does not consider it a repudiation of the president or the first lady.

Mr. Obama “did the best he could,” Mr. Axelrod told CNN shortly after the vote.

“The president made a very strong appeal,” he said. “It wasn’t strong enough to overcome some of the internal currents there, but it was worth the effort.”

Howard Wolfson said he believes the public will not hold the president responsible for the vote, as they may have if he had chosen not to attend.

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