By Duncan Mackay
September 25 - United States President Barack Obama (pictured) will travel to Copenhagen next week to support Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics if it does not damage the progress of his planned health care reform, his senior White House adviser on the Games has promised.
Amid mounting speculation that Obama will make the trip to the Danish capital to attend the International Olympic Committee on October 2, Valerie Jarrett confirmed to ABC7 televison today that he hopes to personally support the city he has lived in for most of his adult life.
She said: "He's always said he'd love to go.
"As the [health care reform] process is going through Congress he's monitoring it very closely and if he thinks that he can go without having an adverse impact on that process, well then he'd be delighted to do so."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs fanned the flames further when asked whether it was possible Obama may go.
He said: "Absolutely.
"I think it would be a very quick trip, [but] yes [he could go]."
An advance team from the White House has already travelled to Copenhagen to make preparations for Obama if he does decide to go.
Jarrett said: "He's preserved his option by having his advance team on the ground and preparing in case he is able to go.
"He has not made a decision as of yet."
Obama's wife, Michelle, the First Lady, is due to arrive in Copenhagen next Wednesday and will hold a series of one-to-one meetings with IOC members.
It is a similar tactic to the one employed by then British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the eve of the vote in Singapore four years ago to pick the host city for 2012 and is widely credited with having swung the balance of power in favour of London when Paris were the favourites.
Jarrett said: "From the time we hit the ground until the time we leave we'll be working very hard to earn each and every vote of the IOC members."
Michelle Obama will be among 10 to take part in Chicago's final presentation to the IOC which will be followed by the final vote.
A number of key officials from the Obama administration are already committed to flying to Copenhagen to back Chicago's bid.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be there along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former Chicago Public Schools chief.
They are both also expected to lobby IOC members.
Jarrett said: "I think our team shows a deep understanding of Chicago.
"We appreciate and love the city."
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