September 15 - Chicago's campaign to host the 2016 Olympics could suffer if United States President Barack Obama (pictured) is not persuaded to travel to Copenhagen next month to support the bid, former International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-President Dick Pound has warned.

Obama announced last week that he has had to abandon plans to attend the IOC Session in the Danish capital because of more pressing matters at home and instead proposes to send his wife, Michelle, the First Lady, to represent him.

Chicago 2016 officials are now pinning their hopes on Michelle Obama's own star quality helping persuade the IOC to support them on October 2 ahead of their rivals Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

But Pound is unsure whether her presence alone will translate into votes.

The Canadian said: "I don't think there's an IOC member on the planet that wouldn't love to meet [the US] President.

"He's a transformational figure in the world today.

"If he can be persuaded to go, I think it makes a huge difference.''

Pound (pictured) is one of the most influential and highest-ranking officials in the IOC and was considered a serious candidate for the Presidency when Juan Antonio Samaranch stepped down in 2001.

Obama has been an enthusiastic supporter of his adopted hometown's bid for the Olympics.

He has videotaped four messages for IOC members in recent months and is planning to hold a special on the lawn of the White House tomorrow to publicly demonstrate his support for Chicago 2016.

He also called IOC President Jacques Rogge personally last week to explain his absence from Copenhagen, saying his priority right now must be the fight to reform the US health care system.

But Chicago's rivals, especially Rio, who have replaced them as the favourites in recent weeks to be chosen to follow London 2012 in recent weeks, are set to try to exploit Obama's absence and maximise the presence in Copenhagen of Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Madrid will be represented by King Juan Carlos of Spain while Tokyo has invited incoming Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Crown Prince Naruhito to be part of their delegation.

Pound said: "The risk is, your competitors are going to say, 'Oh well, you know, he's too busy to come, but he sent his wife.'

"How that would play, I don't know.

"Send both Obamas, though, and it would be a pretty dynamic duo."

But it is the President that would impress the IOC members most and Chicago need to do everything they can to get him to travel with him, said Pound.

"If you have a popular and transformational leader and you don't use him, you're not maximising your chances.

"To the extent that the Mayor [Richard Daley] and [2016 chairman and chief executive] Pat Ryan can twist the presidential arm, they should do that.

"I think it could make a huge difference.''

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