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Lula and Obama compete for Olympic host pick

September 26th, 2009
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and U.S. President Barack Obama

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and U.S. President Barack Obama

A sporting duel between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva heated up on Friday over who — if either of them — gets to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Obama told Lula he will campaign hard to defeat Rio de Janeiro and bring the games to his hometown Chicago, especially after Brazil chose France over the United States for some fighter jet purchases.

The two presidents met in Pittsburgh for the summit of the Group of 20 rich and developing countries, where they agreed on several economic issues.

But Obama did not seem very happy that Lula has chosen to buy 36 fighter jets made by France’s Dassault Aviation and not from U.S. Boeing Co.

“Obama told me that, now that I have chosen the French jets, he will campaign really hard for Chicago,” Lula told reporters in Pittsburgh. “And I replied: that could be your second defeat.”

Obama said his wife could be “very convincing” when campaigning for Chicago.

Michelle Obama is set to visit Copenhagen to campaign for Chicago as the International Olympic Committee picks on October 2 between Rio de Janeiro, Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid for the 2016 games.

It is still not clear if Obama himself is going or not.

His spokesman said on Thursday the president “absolutely” might go, and a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that an advance team had been in Denmark for several days to prepare for a possible visit. But he stressed that a trip was not currently on Obama’s calendar.

Lula, meanwhile, is traveling to Denmark with plenty of confidence.

“I wonder which city in the world has an open-sea hydro massage like Rio de Janeiro,” he said.

(Reporting by Walter Brandimarte, Editing by Frances Kerry)

http://www.reuters.com


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