Obama Lobbies for an "Unforgettable" Olympics in Chicago

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Obama is enthusiastically courting certain members of the International Olympic Committee to support the city of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.

In a letter obtained by CBS News from a White House source, the president praised the Olympic committee and argued that Chicago offers the perfect platform for both a global celebration and a means of improving world relations.

"As President, I see the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games as an extraordinary opportunity for America to renew our bonds of friendship and welcome the world to our shores with open arms," the letter says. "If you honor Chicago with your selection, we will ensure that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are a key priority for our Nation."

The form letter, dated Sept. 10, was not sent to all members of the International Olympic Committee -- only targeted voting members.

"As a member of the International Olympic Committee, the work you do is invaluable to all of us who are committed to building a better world," the letter says. "I have seen the transformative power of the Olympic Games to unite men and women across all boundaries, and I hold the mission of the Olympic Movement in the highest esteem."

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The president noted the White House has already established its own Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport in preparation for the games.

"You can count on our government to support Chicago's quest to host an unforgettable event and strengthen the Olympic Movement," he said.

First Lady Michelle Obama will soon travel to Copenhagen, Denmark to appeal for the International Olympic Committee to pick Chicago as the 2016 host city. The committee votes on the matter on Oct. 2. Chicago is one of four cities now competing for the games, along with Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

The White House has said Mr. Obama told IOC President Count Jacques Rogge that he himself could not represent the United States because "the fight to pass health insurance reform keeps him from committing at this time to travel to Copenhagen on October 2." However, the White House is leaving open the possibility that Mr. Obama will decide to go at the last minute, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Obama said in his letter, "I look forward to discussing that opportunity with you, if not in Copenhagen, then soon thereafter if Chicago is your choice."

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