COPENHAGEN - American First Lady Michelle Obama said on Wednesday she was excited to be in the Danish capital and was ready to do a lot of work in support of Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics ahead of Friday's vote.
Obama flew in from the U.S. earlier in the day and arrived at the International Olympic Committee hotel in Copenhagen to meet members who will be choosing on Friday between Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo as hosts in 2016.
I'm so happy to be here. I'm so excited, she told a media throng awaiting her at the hotel. We have got a lot of work to do. We are not taking anything for granted. So I am going to go and talk to some voters.
Several IOC members were also waiting for her in the hotel lobby as the smiling First Lady waved to supporters.
Earlier, advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, who has accompanied the president's wife to Copenhagen, said there would be intensive lobbying before Friday's vote.
We will have as many as we can possibly see in the time allotted, she told reporters. We have a pretty lengthy line-up. She enjoys tremendous popularity internationally.
Chicago is generally seen as a marginal favorite in one of the closest contests ever.
The one-on-one meetings are very important in a small setting like this, Jarrett added, alluding to the small hotel room adorned with Chicago photos and memorabilia where the meetings would take place.
We want to show we really do have that passion. The president has been involved since day one he has been briefed on a regular basis.
Jarrett said she did not agree that the president, who will arrive early on Friday and join his wife at the IOC presentation in which both will speak, was spending too much time away from the Oval Office.
He is spending the night on the airplane. This is not a significant time commitment. I believe this is time well spent, she added.
One-on-one meetings with IOC members have acquired added importance since then British Prime Minister Tony Blair had dozens of such meetings just before the 2005 vote in Singapore for the 2012 Games.
Blair's role was widely seen as crucial to the successful outcome for London, which beat favorite Paris. French president Jacques Chirac also spent time in Singapore but did not hold one-on-ones.
(Writing by Paul Radford in Copenhagen; Editing by Miles Evans)