Chicago's 2016 Olympic team Saturday began the first of over a dozen presentations to the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission, which will help decide which city should host the 2016 Olympic Games. Commission members received a welcome via video from President Obama, who stressed Chicago's multi-cultural history, and diverse population.
"After your visit, you will discover the Chicago that I know, the city that I made my home, the city where my wife grew up, the city where we raised our daughters, just blocks from where these Games will be held," the President said. "Chicago is that most American of American cities."
He reminded commission members that this is his adopted hometown, and the city where the First Lady spent her childhood.
"In Chicago, we recognize though we come from vastly different stories, we are one people. After your visit, once you discover the Chicago I know ... I am confident you will discover you are already in the perfect host city."
Early Saturday morning, reporters were ushered through a quick walk-through of the presentation areas at the Sheraton Hotel, which will be ground zero of the Olympic effort for the next four days.
The route in passes by a "green room" where presenters stand-by for their moment before the committee. Then there is a "speaker ready room". The strains of "My Kind of Town" wafted from the sound system.
The actual presentation area has all the refinements of a high-tech U.N. meeting. Sitting in a semi-circle on the right side of the room is the Chicago 2016 team, flanked by their colleagues from the United States Olympic Committee. Behind them, a giant screen covering the wall projects images of the Chicago bid.
Opposite the Chicago team, the members of the IOC Evaluation Commission sit in a similar semi-circle with their staff. Below them, a glowing red digital clock faces the Chicago presenters, ticking away the time of each presentation. The room is lit in the soft gold and orange tones which are the predominant colors of the Chicago bid.
After the welcomes, which included not only the President but also Mayor Richard Daley and 2016 chief Patrick Ryan, the official presentations began. The first concerned the "vision, legacy, and concept" of the Chicago bid. Next came briefings on the Chicago venue plan, the proposed Olympic Village, hotel accomodations, transportation, and the city's weather.
Each presentation lasts between 30 and 45 minutes.
Tomorrow the IOC team will board buses for a tour of the majority of the proposed venue locations. 2016 officials have prayed for sunny days during the evaluation committee's visit, but one team member conceded to reporters today, "There could be some weather."
Forecasters have predicted a windy day, with an 80% chance of rain or snow tomorrow.