Olympics Now A Critical Obama Priority, Special Olympic Promise Not So Much

President Obama is on his way to Copenhagen to add support for Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Just last week Obama said he wouldn’t make the trip to Copenhagen, citing his need to press for health care reform legislation instead. White House officials mentioned the economic benefits the U.S. would receive from a winning Olympics bid in explaining the president’s sudden change of heart.

First Lady Michelle Obama was originally slated to represent Chicago before the IOC but will now share the duties with her husband.

The city’s bid is competing with bids from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Spain and Tokyo, and the heads of state from Brazil, Spain and Japan are appearing in person to make their countries’ pitch.

Indeed, Curt Hamakawa, director of the Center for International Sport Business at Western New England College in Massachusetts, said Chicago would likely lose the bid if Obama had chosen not to go.

“For the president not to attend would send a signal, and it would not be helpful to Chicago’s bid. Almost certainly it would result in Chicago not having a chance,” Hamakawa said, adding that if Obama had stayed home and Chicago wasn’t selected, “Republicans would have been crabbing that he didn’t do enough.”

Count me among those who aren’t really bothered by Obama going to support the bid. There’s a lot of money to be made hosting the games, and I’d like to see the games back in the U.S.

What really chaps my ass is that Obama was really interested in atoning for his Special Olympics gaffe on the old Tonight Show in May. From The New York Daily News:

Obama also called [Special Olympics Chairman Tim] Shriver to apologize before the program aired. On ABC Friday morning, Shriver discussed the phone call.

“He expressed his disappointment and he apologized, I think, in a way that was very moving,” Shriver said.

“He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population, certainly didn’t want to embarrass or give anybody any more reason for pain.”

Shriver said Obama told him he was interested in becoming more involved in the Special Olympics.

Obama “said he was a fan of the movement and, I think, importantly said he’s ready to have some of our athletes over the White House to bowl, or play basketball or help him improve his score,” Shriver explained.

In a statement issued Friday morning, Shriver called on the President to consider hiring a
Special Olympics athlete to work in the White House. “In so doing, he could help end misconceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world,” Shriver said.

As the parent of children involved in Special Olympics, I know that President Obama has not made good on his promise.

How about it President Obama?

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