Olympics-Obama win to boost Chicago's 2016 hopes - bid chief

ATHENS Wed Nov 5, 2008 12:47pm EST

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ATHENS Nov 5 (Reuters) - Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election has given Chicago, bidding to host the 2016 Olympics, the chance to shine on the international stage, its bid leader said on Wednesday.

"I think the eyes of the world have been on Barack Obama and therefore on Chicago and the eyes of the world will be on Chicago more than in the past," Chicago 2016 bid chief Patrick Ryan told Reuters.

Democrat candidate Obama, who has spent most of his political life in Chicago, enjoyed a sweeping victory in the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday.

Chicago is one of four candidates vying for the 2016 Summer Olympics alongside Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will choose the winner at its session in Copenhagen in October next year.

"Last night gave us a global opportunity to show the city's beautiful skyline, its lake and parks," Ryan said of Obama's speech in front of more than 200,000 cheering supporters in Chicago's Grant Park.

Ryan said Obama's stature would help Chicago in its bid to become the first U.S. city in 20 years to host the summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996.

"He has travelled around the world. He is a very highly regarded international global figure. He loves sport and he is very proud of Chicago," Ryan said. "I don't see any reason why he would be negative at all."

Ryan would also want to see him attend next year's IOC session and 2016 Games vote.

"We want him to be present," Ryan said. "But depending on his schedule... if things are normal he will be there."

Heads of state have become an important part of the bidding process for the Olympics in recent years.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair attended the 2005 IOC Session while still in office and is widely seen as the man who won the 2012 Games for London.

Last year it was then Russian President Vladimir Putin who made a flawless presentation -- in English -- in front of all the IOC's members in Guatemala to win the 2014 Winter Olympics for the Russian resort of Sochi, an outsider at the time.

The IOC has said it will not object to heads of state wishing to support bid cities but has insisted on a low profile presence so as not to take the spotlight off the vote itself.

(Editing by Miles Evans)

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