Chicago bid for 2016 Games enters final stretch
LAUSANNE, Switzerland |
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The race to host the 2016 Olympic Games entered its final stretch on Wednesday with four cities outlining their plans to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) before the October election.
Madrid, Tokyo, Chicago and Rio de Janeiro pitched their bids to some 93 out of 107 IOC members and no front-runner emerged before the vote on October 2 in Copenhagen.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said all four cities were capable of staging "superb Games."
"It is going to be a difficult choice for my colleagues," Rogge told reporters. "I am lucky not to be obliged to vote."
Officials for Chicago, planning to hold much of the Games in the city center, were upbeat after their 90-minute appearance.
"I think the team did really well," said Chicago bid chief Pat Ryan as a few Chicagoans opposing the Games in the U.S. city gathered outside the Olympic Museum distributing leaflets.
"The Chicago Games will open up a large untapped corporate community... to the Olympic movement," said Ryan.
NO OBAMA VIDEO
A notable absence from Chicago's videos was U.S. president Barack Obama, a bid supporter who spent much of his political life in the city, unlike the heads of state from the other three candidates who issued brief video messages.
The U.S. President did, however, announce on Tuesday the creation of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport to encourage youth participation in sport.
Tokyo had the backing of Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, who competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, pledging the government's full support of Tokyo's bid.
"I am proud to confirm the total commitment of the government of Japan to the Tokyo 2016 Games," Aso said.
Tokyo drafted a compact bid with the Tokyo Bay area at the heart of the Games. Bid officials also highlighted the fact they had $4 billion "in the bank today."
Rio de Janeiro backed its proposal to stage the Games two years after hosting the 2014 soccer World Cup with the presence of the country's Central Bank chief, Henrique Meirelles, and a video message from President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
"We are very confident," Rio 2016 Secretary General Carlos Osorio said. He said state guarantees would allow Rio to start work immediately.
"We can fully start working into (the Games) those magical things instead of chasing pennies," a buoyant Osorio said.
Meirelles said he provided updated facts on the Brazilian economy, allaying any financial concerns.
"It is important to have a better idea of the Brazilian economic situation today," said Meirelles.
"Brazil has a stable economy. Investments are coming back. The Brazilian numbers speak for themselves," Meirelles said.
Madrid, bidding for the second successive time, included a message by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who will accompany the Spanish King and Queen to Copenhagen, backing the capital's candidacy.
"(The presentation) was done in a robust way," Madrid bid chief Mercedes Coghen said. "It is a long way until Copenhagen."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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