Image: Michelle Obama in Copenhagen
Nils Meilvang  /  AFP - Getty Images
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama arrives at Copenhagen Airport on Wednesday in order to lend her support to Chicago's effort to win the 2016 Summer Olympics. news services
updated 9/30/2009 7:46:39 AM ET 2009-09-30T11:46:39

Let the lobbying begin.

First lady Michelle Obama has arrived to lend her support to Chicago's effort to win the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Mrs. Obama's plane landed a little before 11:30 a.m. local time, and she was greeted by a contingency that included Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, his wife, Maggie, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Chicago 2016 president Lori Healey.

Mrs. Obama will spend the next two days meeting with IOC members, hoping to persuade them to vote for her hometown. President Barack Obama arrives Friday, and both Obamas will be part of Chicago's final presentation.

Chicago is locked in a tight race with Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo for the Games.

First lady to lead lobbying
Chicago's bid team does not expect the president to do the sort of intense campaigning then British prime minister Tony Blair did when he helped persuade members to choose London for the 2012 Games, or Russian president Vladimir Putin when he helped win the 2014 Winter Olympics for outside Sochi.

Instead it will be down to the first lady to lead the lobbying effort for her home city.

"The eyes of the world were already here but now they're really shining brightly in Copenhagen," Chicago bid leader Patrick Ryan said at a news conference at a platform built on a Copenhagen swimming pool on Tuesday.

"It obviously changes many things. The president is coming to the city, people are very excited that he's coming and that Michelle Obama is coming," he said.

"But we don't know, nobody knows, if it impacts the race. The voters will determine this," he added.

A first for U.S. president
Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to address an IOC session. Michelle Obama will also address the session and she is expected to hold one-on-one meetings in the Danish capital.

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"Michelle Obama will be doing that (meeting with members) over the next couple of days," Ryan said.

"We're so thankful (to the president). We're not comparing this to Tony Blair or Mr. Putin or other presidents. We don't want to get into the politics. This is about sport. It's about the Olympics. It's not about the influence of one individual," Ryan said.

That message, that the Olympic Games are about the athletes rather than politicians, was one Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley came back to time and again on Tuesday.

"I would just say that this is not about competition among heads of state," Ryan said. "This is about cities that would be the best host cities for the Games. It's all about what's best for the athletes."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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