Brazil's president to push Rio bid in Copenhagen

Updated: August 14, 2009, 3:10 PM ET
Associated Press

BERLIN -- Brazil's president will travel to Copenhagen to lead Rio de Janeiro's final push to land the 2016 Olympics.

Rio bid officials announced Friday that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would head the delegation at the International Olympic Committee session on Oct. 2.

"He is not just chief of state, but the leader of our campaign," said Rio de Janeiro state governor Sergio Cabral. "He represents the soul of Brazil."

Rio -- seeking to take the Olympics to South America -- is competing against Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo. The winner will be determined by a secret ballot of the 100-plus IOC members.

Cabral said that Silva will meet individually with IOC members and lead the formal presentation ahead of the vote.

King Juan Carlos of Spain has announced he will attend the vote for Madrid. Chicago bid officials hope President Barack Obama will be there, but no decision has been announced.

Tokyo could be represented by Japan's crown prince or prime minister.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said the Copenhagen session will be a like a "G4 meeting."

Tony Blair was instrumental in landing 2012 Olympics for London when, as British prime minister, he traveled to Singapore in 2005 to lobby IOC members. As Russian president, Vladimir Putin helped Sochi get the 2014 Winter Games when he went to Guatemala City for the IOC vote in 2007.

"The presence of President Lula is very important," Cabral said. "It is absolutely fundamental. It demonstrates that all of the Brazilian people want the games in 2016."

"We didn't need to ask him to go," said Rio bid chief executive Carlos Roberto Osorio. "He decided by himself. He wants to be there."

IOC president Jacques Rogge reiterated Friday that heads of states and governments are welcome, although he is uncomfortable with the "razzmatazz" that surrounds the host city elections.

Rio has been campaigning hard on the argument that Brazil and South America should get the games for the first time and bring something new to the Olympic movement.

Cabral noted that the U.S. has hosted eight summer and winter games and Spain and Japan also have been Olympic hosts.

Rio officials contend that Brazil's economy is faring better than most during the global downturn, with predictions of nearly five percent growth in the GDP in 2010.

Brazil also says investments and facilities planned for the 2014 World Cup will help prepare for the Olympics two years later.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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