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Obama Magic Fails, Rio De Janeiro To Host 2016 Olympic Games

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games after US President Barack Obama's emotional plea for his adopted home town Chicago failed to clinch it.  The mere presence of world's most powerful man was

PTI [ Updated: October 03, 2009 2:08 IST ]
obama magic fails rio de janeiro to host 2016 olympic games
obama magic fails rio de janeiro to host 2016 olympic games

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games after US President Barack Obama's emotional plea for his adopted home town Chicago failed to clinch it. 

The mere presence of world's most powerful man was ample indication of the seriousness of the affair and in the end, Rio de Janeiro pipped Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago as Olympic Games, for the first time, headed for South America. 

Not that it was a cakewalk. 

Honolulu-born Obama himself was here to bolster Chicago's bid, defying criticism of his political adversaries who were quick to remind that health care, the Afghanistan war and the financial meltdown should have been the President's priority. 

Obama, however, looked unperturbed and the lone agenda during his five-hour trip of the Danish capital was to wax eloquence on why the Games should go to Chicago. 

"I never really had any roots until I came to Chicago and discovered this most American of cities. It is a rich tapestry of neighbourhoods. If you choose us we walk this path together," he said. 

First lady Michelle Obama had not left any stone unturned either. 

A Chicago native, she had been camping here since Wednesday, attending meetings after meetings to ensure there was no last-minute slip-up. 

"You cannot take any vote for granted. Nobody makes the decision until they're sitting there," she insisted. More 

"We would use these Games as a vehicle for reaching out to the world. It would usher in a new era of international engagement," Michelles promised. 

But all came to a naught as odds-on favourite Chicago received a royal snub to crash out of the race in the very first round of voting. 

Like Chicago, Tokyo could not be blamed for not trying enough either. 

Following Obama, Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made an impressive presentation, articulating why it was important from an environmental point of view to allow Tokyo to host a green Olympics. 

Besides, of the four cities in the fray, only Tokyo has a previous experience of hosting an Olympics (in 1964), he pointed out. 

Buttressing Tokyo's case, governor Shintaro Ishihara said, "I saw in 1964 how sport transformed Japan. Fifty years later I still believe in sport's power to change things for the better." 

But much to his disappointment, Tokyo fell by the wayside after the second round of voting, leaving the fight to Rio de Janeiro and Madrid. 

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero spearheaded Madrid's bid to become the first Spanish city to host the Games after Barcelona held it in 1992. 

The Spanish delegation included the 89-year-old former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who made a passionate appeal, watched by Spain King Juan Carlos and Real Madrid captain Raul. 

But Rio de Janeiro had the last laugh. 

Like Obama, Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva took the onus on himself to convince the 95 eligible International Olympic Committee (IOC) voters to bring the Games to South America for the first time. 

"I honestly believe it is Brazil's time," he said. 

"Brazil is the only one of the top 10 economies in the world not to have hosted the Olympics. Give us this chance and you won't regret it," pleaded the Brazil President as soccer legend Pele looked on. 

Brazil had chosen former FIFA President Joao Havelange to open Rio de Janeiro's presentation and the 93-year-old longest serving IOC member made an appeal seeped in emotion. 

"I have a dream of seeing history made in 2016 with the first Games in South America. I invite you all in 2016 to my city in new Brazil for my 100th birthday," Havelange said. 

"Rio is the city of my birth, where I began my journey from where I witnessed history. 

"At the 1936 Berlin Games of Jessie Owens, in 1952 in Helsinki where new nations appeared for the first time. Then as an IOC member I've witnessed memorable Games in places like Tokyo, Los Angeles and Beijing. 

"I ask you to join me and make this dream of bringing the Games to Rio in 2016 come through," he said. PTI

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