September 23 - Michael Johnson, Nadia Comaneci (pictured), Nastia Liukin and Jackie Joyner-Kersee are among 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists who will travel to Copenhagen to support Chicago's bid to win the vote to host the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, it was announced today.

But noticeably absent among the 26 athletes travelling to the Danish capital is Michael Jordan, the double Olympic gold medallist who played for the Chicago Bulls and has appeared in videos supporting the bid.

Making up for his absence, Chicago hopes, is television star Oprah Winfrey, who will be part of the delegation, as insidethegames reported she would be earlier this month.

Rio de Janeiro, the favourites and Chicago's main rivals, are expected to include Pele, arguably the world's greatest ever sportsmen, in their delegation.

But Chicago's supporters are confident their star-studded delegation, which will also include the United States First Lady, Michelle Obama, will help influence the International Olympic Committee members when they vote on October 2 in a contest that also includes Madrid and Tokyo.

Bart Conner, a Chicago native and double Olympic gold medallist at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, said: "It's hard for me to be unbiased about this.

"When you look at the plan and the spectacular city and the legacy plan and the convenience for the athletes against the backdrop of the city, on lots of levels, Chicago gets it and understands what the Olympics is about."

Johnson had the defining performance the last time the Summer Games were in the United States, in Atlanta in 1996.

Wearing bright gold shoes, he became the first - and so far, only - man to win the 200 and 400 metres at the same Olympics.

Comaneci's string of seven perfect 10s at the 1976 Montreal Games captivated the world, and the Romanian teenager appeared on the covers of magazines like Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and Time.

Liukin is the reigning Olympic champion, joining Mary Lou Retton and Carly Patterson as the only American women to win the all-around title.

Joyner-Kersee, an Illinois native, is among the greatest track and field athletes ever, winning three golds in the heptathlon and long jump.

The team will also include gold medalists Michael Conley, the 1992 triple jump champion who grew up near the proposed Olympic Stadium in Washington Park, Edwin Moses, the 1976 and 1984 Olympic 400m hurdles champion and 2008 Olympic decathlon winner Bryan Clay.
Patrick Ryan, the chairman and chief executive of Chicago 2016, said: "More than 2,500 athletes support Chicago 2016, and we have utilised their knowledge in all aspects of our bid - including insights into venue planning and athlete accommodations in our proposed Village, as well as to promote our bid across the United States and the world.

“We are honoured to have so many athletes making the trip with us to Copenhagen for our presentation to the IOC to share their Olympic and Paralympic stories and to show their support for our bid." 

Winfrey (pictured), the highest-paid television star in the world, has been a keen supporter of the Chicago bid since it was launched.

She attended the City Night event during the IOC’s Evaluation Commission visit to Chicago in April.

She also hosted several members of the US Olympic team on The Oprah Winfrey Show following the 2008 Games, where she taped her show in front of thousands of fans in Millennium Park in the heart of downtown Chicago .

The show aired around the world as the season premiere on September 8, 2008.

Ryan said: “We are very honoured and excited to have Oprah Winfrey travel to Copenhagen.

"As a member of our community and as someone who understands and demonstrates the value of helping others, she embodies the spirit of so many Chicagoans and is truly an emissary for our bid and for the city of Chicago."

Winfrey said: "I love and believe in Chicago , and I think it would be the perfect Host City for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

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: Jordan set to join Obama and miss Copenhagen but Oprah offers to be there