12/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Doesn't Make Chicago Olympics Front Runner: Bid Chief

From AFP:

The election of Illinois senator and Chicago resident Barack Obama does not make Chicago the front runner for the race to win the right to host the 2016 Summer Games, their bid chief told AFP on Thursday.

Pat Ryan - who is here to present the bid to the European Olympic Committees - indeed conceded that Tokyo and Madrid two of their three rivals - the other one being Rio de Janeiro - were ahead technically.

Ryan, who has brought to the bid his experience in creating the biggest insurance and reinsurance firm in the world, admitted that Obama's election had obviously helped in turning the spotlight on Chicago and they could count on his public support.

"His election has put Chicago into a very bright light," said Ryan, who was asked by longserving Mayor Richard Daley to head up the bid.

"He is both very popular inside and outside the United States.

"I believe that the interest he expressed in the bid on the domestic front will be transferred onto the international one.

"Also he is a keen sportsman and he has placed health and fitness as one of his main priorities.

"He supports our bid and came to a rally in Chicago.

"But we have to keep it in perspective and maintain our eye on the ball and do what we have to do to win the race."


Ryan, though, refused to accept that Chicago should be regarded as the frontrunner wary perhaps of the last two races for the 2012 and 2014 Games when both Paris and Pyeongchang came second to London and Sochi respectively.

"I don't believe there is a frontrunner," he said.

"For me Tokyo and Madrid are frontrunners in terms of the technical aspect."