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Close race to host 2016 Olympics nears finish
By STEPHEN WILSON (AP) – 4 hours ago
LONDON — Close your eyes and imagine the possible scenarios in 2016.
Olympic athletes strolling to competition venues along Chicago's lakefront. Volleyball players diving on the sand of Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach. Cyclists whizzing past Tokyo's Imperial Palace. Soccer players curling free kicks in Madrid's Bernabeu stadium.
After a two-year global campaign featuring four world-class cities, one of the closest bid races in Olympic history will be decided next Friday in a vote of the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen.
Although IOC votes — by secret ballot over several rounds — can be highly unpredictable, Rio and Chicago look to be the main contenders.
Chicago's hopes could ultimately depend on whether Obama goes to Copenhagen for the vote. Tony Blair, then Britain's prime minister, was instrumental in London's victory when he traveled to Singapore in 2005; and Vladimir Putin helped Sochi get the 2014 Winter Games when he went to Guatemala City in 2007.
The decision may come down to two key issues: Will President Barack Obama go to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago's case in person? Is the IOC ready to take a bit of a gamble on Rio and send the Olympics to South America for the first time?
Each city will be bringing celebrity supporters to Copenhagen, including Pele for Brazil and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey for Chicago.
Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, offers a first-class technical bid and claims it is the safest bet at a time of financial uncertainty and already has $4 billion in the bank for the games. Yet, there is a sense among some IOC members that it would be soon to go back to Asia after last year's stunning Beijing Olympics.
Jut to recap, if Tokyo gets the Olympics, to make space for stadiums and sports venues, they will level a section of Odaiba, including the Pallett Town shopping center and Toyota's MegaWeb.