Candidate cities, political leaders woo IOC
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As Copenhagen gears up for the International Olympic Committee's announcement on which city will host the 2016 Olympic Games on Friday, the leaders of Brazil, the US, Spain and Japan all descended on the city to support their nations' bids.
The International Olympic Committee kicked off a key meeting in Denmark on Friday, to choose between Chicago, Tokyo, Rio or Madrid as hosts of the 2016 Olympics.
World political heavyweights including US President Barack Obama descended on Copenhagen to support their countries’ bids in the bitter battle.
Japan’s new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Brazilian president Lula da Silva and Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and King Juan Carlos also joined the lobbying efforts for their respective cities.
The IOC’s voting members routinely look at the candidate cities’ infrastructures and financial support, making top political support a pre-requisite. Prominent leaders can help to tip the balance by demonstrating unwavering commitment to investing national resources in the organisation of the Games.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair helped London win the 2012 summer Games and Russia’s Vladimir Putin led the successful bid for Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Tokyo calls for Green, Brazil for balance
Barack Obama was the first head of state to take the floor, as representatives for his cherished adopted hometown Chicago presented their case in front of more than 100 members of the IOC.
“I’ve come here today to urge you to choose Chicago for the same reasons I chose nearly 25 years ago, the reason I fell in love with the city I still call home (…) It's a buzzling metropolis with the warmth of a small town,” the US president said in an impassioned plea.
His speech followed a charm offensive by his wife Michelle, who has been campaigning in Copenhagen for two days and cemented Chicago’s status as one of the favourite candidates.
Japan’s recently-elected Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama fiercely defended Tokyo’s bid, assuring IOC delegates of the country’s environmental credentials. Tokyo plans to use solar power generation and environmentally friendly vehicles in the Olympic Village, a plan that is likely to be well-received in the Danish capital where the UN is due to host crucial climate talks later this year.
“The fraternity of the Japanese has been always my philosophy and through that building bridges with the world (…) We would honour the Olympic Charter in letter and spirit,” said Hayotama. "Tokyo will provide games which assure personal security and environmental stability.”
Brazilian President Lula da Silva threw all his weight behind Rio de Janeiro, a vibrant city of 12 million people boasting the largest Olympics budget in this race - 14.4 billion dollars. If elected, Rio could become the first South American city to host a summer Olympics.
"I honestly think it is Brazil's turn," the Brazilian leader said, adding Brazil was the only one of the world's 10 most powerful nations to have never staged the Games.
Spanish King Juan Carlos will head the Madrid delegation when it makes its case later this afternoon. Madrid lost out to London in its bid for the 2012 Games but today it can boast of having built already 70% of the Olympic infrastructure amid massive domestic popular support.
Predicting a winner is notoriously difficult as the voting is divided into several rounds. IOC delegates from the eliminated cities join the next round and can cast a vote for any of the remaining candidates.
IOC members start voting from 5.10pm and results are expected by 7pm (both GMT+2).
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