2016 Gala Spotlights City's Class … (Uh) Oprah

City hosts gala at Art Institute

There was at least one success story at Monday night's glitzy gala event held for the Olympic committee members. 

"All I know is one of the members [Evaluation Committee Chairwoman Nawal El Moutawakel] had her cell phone, she called Morrocco, she put her daughter on the phone to talk to Oprah!" said Gov. Pat Quinn said as he bounded down the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago.  "Not many cities anywhere in the world you could do that!"

Winfrey was just one heavy hitter brought out for the evening's festivities. Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, also addressed IOC members in person.

With an eye on the diverse committee's 13 members, Chicago's Olympic organizers put on a cultural festival, mixing the blues of Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor with the masterworks of Claude Monet, Marc Chagall, and Vincent Van Gogh.
The intimate, 120-person event was closed to the media, but NBC's Alan Abrahamson was allowed into the room briefly on behalf of NBC Chicago and other media outlets.
In his report, Abrahamson quoted Pat Ryan, chairman and chief executive of the Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics:

"You've asked very good questions. You've challenged us but it has been a great exchange of ideas and we have had a wonderful opportunity to represent our great city and our plan. I'm very proud of the team. It has just been a great opportunity to be with you and thank you for being with us."

In attendance:

Oprah Winfrey, the television host, clearly the center of attention in the room, elegant in a white top and black skirt. Sharing her table: Nawal el-Moutawakel of Morocco, the chairwoman of the evaluation commission; Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley; track and field gold medalist Michael Conley, president of World Sport Chicago; Miles White, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Abbott Laboratories; Larry Probst, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors; J.B. Pritzker, managing partner and co-founder of The Pritzker Group; and Mufi Hannemann, mayor of Honolulu, who flew to Chicago in an effort to demonstrate the national support of the Chicago bid.

Olympic figures in the room included gymnastics gold medalist Bart Conner; track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee; 2008 Beijing Games decathlon gold medalist Bryan Clay; 2008 Games women’s all-around gymnastics gold medalist Nastia Liukin; the two IOC members in the United States, Anita DeFrantz and Jim Easton; and the acting chief executive of the USOC, Stephanie Streeter.

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