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George W. Bush was the first sitting president to attend a foreign Olympics ever, so it really should not be out of the ordinary for Obama to stay home. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill headed the U.S. delegation in Vancouver as well.

First lady heads U.S. delegation to London Olympics

By Katherine Skiba

Chicago Tribune reporter

WASHINGTON--First lady Michelle Obama will attend the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, a White House official said Tuesday.

But Obama daughters Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10, will not be attending, according to the official, who indicated the White House in coming months will make public who scored a spot in the presidential delegation. The first lady will lead the group.

The opening ceremony July 27 will feature the nation-by-nation parade of participating athletes, game organizers said.

Tuesday, President Barack Obama and the first lady welcome British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha Cameron, as they begin an official visit to the U.S.

Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Cameron on Tuesday are to take part in an Olympics-themed event with local school children. The event, at American University, is expected to draw former Olympic athletes including gymnast Dominique Dawes.

http://www.chicagotr...0,6641240.story

Edited by Soaring
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That she will be going rather than the President, which honestly is kind of an insult to the UK.

Well, we made do with Chelsea Clinton in 2000. As Rob pointed out, SOGs always coinciding with election years aren't always conducive to getting POTUS to the games outside the USA. And in 2000, it wasn't even as if Bill was running - it was his last lame duck months of his term.

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What does that mean? That she will be the flag bearer for the US team in the parade of the nations??

No, many country sends a political delegation to the Opening Ceremonies. Remember, the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games is the largest, regularly held gathering of nations. Representatives of over 100 nations were in attendance in Beijing. Probably a similar number will be in London. Just different ones. Probably more Commonwealth and European leaders in London.

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Swimmers wait on ceremony decision

No decision has been made about whether British swimmers will be allowed to take part in this summer's London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

Track and field athletes - such as gold medal hopes Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Phillips Idowu - have already been told they will not be allowed to be involved by their outspoken head coach Charles van Commenee.

Instead they will be based in a five-star training camp in Majorca ahead of the start of their events, one week after the showpiece opening.

Events at the Olympic Pool dominate the first week's schedule at the Games but British Swimming's performance director Michael Scott has yet to formulate a policy about the first night.

Some medal hopes, such as medley specialist Hannah Miley, will definitely not take part and probably won't even stay up to see the Olympic flame arrive just before midnight - their competitions start just ten hours later.

But others, such as open water world champion Keri-Anne Payne and double Olympic medallist David Davies will not start their campaigns until several days later.

And it is expected Scott will not apply a blanket ban but discuss the merits of marching with each individual athlete. For example, in Beijing, he allowed 50m freestyle swimmer Mark Foster, appearing at his fifth Games, to carry the flag.

Another option is to allow swimmers to take part in the parade of nations before leaving the show early and returning to the nearby Olympic Village, which is also a short walk from the Aquatics Centre, cutting down worries over transportation that have existed at previous Games.

"Obviously there is a discussion to have there but it is performance first in my mind. We have not decided on a complete policy yet," said Scott.

"As a group we will talk about it nearer the time and we will also talk about it with individual athletes."

Great Britain will have a 550-strong team at the Games but many of the 59 athletes announced so far, including 38 swimmers who qualified at last week's British Gas Swimming Championships, have expressed concern about taking part in the opening, which is being masterminded by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle.

"I agree with Michael, performance comes first and the British public will be pretty disappointed if athletes failed to perform at their best because they attended and marched at the opening ceremony," said Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt.

"Athletes should be given the freedom to have a debate and decide collectively on a policy and then stand by it.

"Some athletes won't be in the country or anywhere near the Olympic environment, so from a logistics perspective it is hard for them to be involved.

"Swimming is different because some of the team are competing the following morning, so there are a lot of athletes on a performance basis that will not be able to participate.

"It is probably only those who are a bit further down the schedule who could take part."

Scott is refusing to set any medal targets for the Olympic pool but Rebecca Adlington, Fran Halsall, Liam Tancock, Ellen Gandy and Miley all showed encouraging early season form in London last week.

But many of his squad will be competing at their first Games, although Scott believes they will use the 17,000 home crowd as a performance-enhancer.

"I look at all those people cheering for our athletes as a positive not as a negative," he added.

Eurosport

Hmmmm. So the UK track team's been told not to march, eh?

I can't help but think back to that old argument put by all those who had/have conniptions at Rio's Maracana ceremony stadium plan, that not to have the ceremonies at the athletics stadium was "disrespectful" for the track athletes ... <_<

Edited by Sir Rols
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Hmmmm. So the UK track team's been told not to march, eh?

I can't help but think back to that old argument put by all those who had/have conniptions at Rio's Maracana ceremony stadium plan, that not to have the ceremonies at the athletics stadium was "disrespectful" for the track athletes ... <_<

I don't think it's disrespectful (why should those athletes get more respect than others anyway), but I do prefer the tradition of staging the ceremonies in the athletics venue because it gives a sense of more continuity and ties the spectacle more directly to the competition. Yes there is competition at Maracana, but football is hardly one of the marquee sports of the Games and one medal awarded in Maracana pales in comparison to the numbers that will be awarded during the full week of competition at the athletics venue. Plus you lose our on having the flame in the background of those sports. I understand why Rio is doing it this way, but I like the traditional approach. It has nothing to do with respecting track athletes though.

I just hope the cauldron lighting will be something unique yet simple. Beijing is still the worst cauldron lighting ever in my opinion. Tried too hard and overtly tedious!

Athens's is still my fave. Beautiful simplicity, perfect combination of humane and technological touch.

I thought Beijing was interesting, if a bit contrived. Nothing will ever top Barcelona, though. Atlanta with it's jerky, malfunctioning flaming ball of rags was by far the worst.

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That she will be going rather than the President, which honestly is kind of an insult to the UK.

Well, it could be tit for tat. Remember, Obama and his wife were not invited to the Royal Wedding last April.

Also, one can't help but think Obama is not Great Britain's greatest admirer - no matter what he says this week to David Cameron.

1. Britain should discuss the Fawkland Islands with Argentina, according to his administration

2. He called France, America's greatest and strongest ally ( that made a lot of French snigger)

3. He couldn't remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office quick enough

4. His public demoralization of BP, during the Gulf oil crisis

Really, It's not like the 'special' relationship exists with Obama at the helm, Britons are kidding themselves if they think otherwise.

I never expected Obama to attend the opening, for the reasons outlined by other posters (election), but honestly.... election or no election, he couldn't care less.

Edited by Michelle
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Michelle, I am glad Obama personally told you that he could care less. It is great having such an insider on these boards. I look forward to hearing all of the other sentiments from world leaders since you seem to have so much personal experience with them. :lol:

I know Obama was really heartbroken about not attending the royal wedding. He and the First Lady were talking about Kate's dress in the months leading up to the ceremony, so it was a real let down when they did not get an invitation.

Edited by Soaring
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I couldn't care less whether Obama attends the opening ceremony or not. I also couldn't care less about the Royal Wedding. I have a feeling that I am in the majority with that feeling.

I couldn't care less about the obamas but I do care about the royal wedding and the diamond jubilee LOL

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It's quite funny we should be talking about this right at the time that Obama is heaping the praise on David Cameron. It actually is making me feel sick.

It's also very strange as despite caring little about the Royal Wedding I also care about the Jubilee celebrations. I am a big fan of our Queen. I am certainly NOT a royalist but I have a huge amount of respect for her and I think it would be good for the country to celebrate her achievements.

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If I were Obama, after being internationally snubbed Chicago's defeat, I wouldn't go anywhere near the Olympics. Especially in an election year, when commentators are sure to remind millions of viewers of the embarrassment.

As for the Royal Wedding, from what I understand, during their visit to the UK, the Obamas broke protocol left and right to such a great extent that it offended the Queen. Their humiliating lack of respect is why they weren't invited.

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Michelle, I am glad Obama personally told you that he could care less. It is great having such an insider on these boards. I look forward to hearing all of the other sentiments from world leaders since you seem to have so much personal experience with them. :lol:

I know Obama was really heartbroken about not attending the royal wedding. He and the First Lady were talking about Kate's dress in the months leading up to the ceremony, so it was a real let down when they did not get an invitation.

Obama doesn't have to tell anyone anything in private for people with reasonable intelligence to understand his general feelings on given topics. What Michelle said was totally correct. And your response was well.......pointless.

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If I were Obama, after being internationally snubbed Chicago's defeat, I wouldn't go anywhere near the Olympics. Especially in an election year, when commentators are sure to remind millions of viewers of the embarrassment.

As for the Royal Wedding, from what I understand, during their visit to the UK, the Obamas broke protocol left and right to such a great extent that it offended the Queen. Their humiliating lack of respect is why they weren't invited.

Chicago lost the 2016 bid because they were not a new frontier and in relation to Tokyo and Madrid, their bid, in technical terms, was far weaker. They didn't deserve to be awarded the Olympic games.

The Obamas have been consistently rude to UK -- removing the Churchill bust, patronising the UK's relationship with America by belittling the UK, giving prime minister a gift of DVDs (despite him being legally blind), referring to the UK as just "England" thus showing his ignorance.

I couldn't care about Obama coming to the Olympics or his heffer of a wife. He's a dirty racist who spent 20+ of his adult life in a black supremacist racist church. So sad he won't be there.

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I don't care if he attends either. It doesn't matter.

How was Obama "rude" during his last visit? I think you Brits are just so uptight about "protocol" that it makes me want to throw up. I can care less about a royal wedding or a jubilee celebration. I watched videos time and again when the Queen was just outright rude to people. I don't care what family she was born into, it was nothing of her own doing. Humility is a beautiful thing, and I would love to see more of it from the House of Windsor.

.

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I don't care if he attends either. It doesn't matter. How was Obama "rude" during his last visit? I think you Brits are just so uptight about "protocol" that it makes me want to throw up.

Nope we're really not. I didn't even know there was a breaking of protocol. I suspect that's because I read the wrong papers to be honest. Heh ho. And even if there was, as long as it wasn't outright disrespectful, i couldn't (

) care less.

Obama is definitely cooler on the UK than some of his predecessors were, and certainly neither Brown nor Cameron forged the kind of relationship with the President Blair or, say Thatcher did (whether that's necessarily a bad thing is open to debate). And I also think it's clear he's spent a lot of his term rebuilding relations with the countries in Europe whose relationship with the US was at an all-time low during the Bush years; I'm thinking particularly of France. The UK does have a special relationship with the US - at least as "special" as it needs to be, but thankfully a few other countries in Europe seem to now as well. The operations in Libya show that.

I think analysing the trivialities of gifts and protocol is a little bit silly. This might be the stuff some of our press feeds on - and possibly some of your press given Athenfan's post - but it's not worth my time. The US-UK relationship is as solid as any when it comes to the things that actually matter.

Anyway, back on topic: I suspect the worst thing Obama could do would be to go to an Olympics in the middle of an election campaign, not least because the Republicans will use it to remind everyone of his last Olympic-related jaunt across the Atlantic. What he thinks of the UK would have been a lot further back in his mind than his election prospects when making that particular decision. I don't know, as Michelle seems to (how?), whether he couldn't care less about attending or not (he might really want to for all we know), but I would guess that he's got enough nous to see that going wouldn't be the best idea politically.

Edited by RobH
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Chicago lost the 2016 bid because they were not a new frontier and in relation to Tokyo and Madrid, their bid, in technical terms, was far weaker. They didn't deserve to be awarded the Olympic games.

I do not agree with your opinion of Chicago's technical merit at all, but really it doesn't matter why they lost from Obama's perspective.

He is the only sitting US president to attend an IOC session and make a plea on behalf of an American city. For a combination of reasons, that city was eliminated FIRST. This constituted a serious embarrassment to the president that detracted from his air of authority and respect. Even if Chicago had been beaten by Rio later in the vote, it would've looked better. From a political perspective, Chicago's shocking early exit could be interpreted as disrespect for the president. As Gamesbidders, we don't really see it that way, but in an election year the White House will pay attention to probable public perception.

If Obama attended the Games, the commentators would remind millions of tv viewers (and voters) that he had stumped for Chicago and Chicago was summarily dismissed.

I agree that he isn't warm and fuzzy towards the UK, but no matter where these Games were being held, I don't think he'd be in attendance for a variety of reasons -- one of them being the bad taste he still has in his mouth from Copenhagen.

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For goodness sake, nobody in the UK really gives a damn if Michelle broke Royal protocol by putting her hand on the Queen's back. It is really so ridiculous and embarassing that people abroad think we actually care about this stuff. It is our newspapers that report this stuff but most ordinary folk couldn't care less. We are a reasonable nation with a good sense fo humour after all. I don't like being made to look like a nation of stuffy royalists.

There are many generalisations made in this thread and people should consider that many of the opinions being voiced here are not the general consensus on either side of the atlantic. I really don't see why the UK would really be worried that Obama is not coming. It is actually being reported from several sources as a good thing. After all, it lessens the security concerns at a time when London could really do with a break.

I have always had a problem with newspapers and tv show going on about the "special relationship". I even heard Kaye Burley on Skynews speaking on behalf of the nation saying we view it as "vital" and a "very big deal to all". Who are you speaking for Kay? Not me. I have nothing against America at all but do we really need to hear this ridiculous claptrap being spouted every time there is an official visit? I am really quite bored of it.

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I suspect Obama won't be attending the Rio Games either (presuming he gets reelected). Our relationship with Brazil is not as integral as our relationship with China, and Bush attended mainly out of respect for China (and them coming to the '84 Games).

At the end of the day, Obama's reason for going or not are purely political, and not personal.

I would think the British people would be happy that their Prime Minister is not as cozy with the U.S. President since Blair received so much flack for being Bush's lap dog.

Also, regarding removing the Churchill statue in the oval office... I wasn't even aware of that, but why should it be offensive for a U.S. president to want a statue of Abraham Lincoln in its place? Lincoln came from Obama's home state, and is one of the most revered presidential figures in America. It was a nice gesture on behalf of the British to offer the gift, but so what if the guy wants to decorate his office with figures that inspire him more.

Regarding my generalization... I fully understand many are not "stuffy Brits" when it comes to things like that. I apologize for wording in a way where I lump everyone together. But no one explained why and how Obama was rude during his last visit...

Edited by Soaring
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He wasn't rude, never has been. It's just stuffy newspapers with nothing better to do. The only time he has ever annoyed me was when he described France as "America's greatest ally". After loosing so many our soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq(3 times that of France) it really was a badly judged remark and quite offensive.

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And he's said exactly the same thing about the UK today, at least in not so many words. 'Our closest friend and deepest ally'. It's diplomatic niceties, no more, no less.

And I didn't know about the Churchill bust either. Though Googling it I'm not surprised which of our papers reported on it. And frankly, now I do know about it it's embarrassing how needy trivial things like this blown out of proportion make us look:

Internal US cables published by Wikileaks talk about "British paranoia" over the UK-US relationship after Obama was elected. They say "this over-reading would often be humorous, if it were not so corrosive", mentioning within that conclusion the coverge the removal of the Churchill bust received in some of our papers. And they're right to laugh at us for that in my opinion, but how embarrassing?! The leaked internal cable goes on to say, however, "The UK's commitment of resources - financial, military, diplomatic - in support of US global priorities remains unparalleled; a UK public confident that the [uS] values those contributions and our relationship, matters to US national security." I think that just about sums it up.

Let's not "over-read" the choice of Michelle Obama to lead the US delegation at our opening ceremony either. It's about Obama's re-election chances, nothing more.

Edited by RobH
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I do not agree with your opinion of Chicago's technical merit at all, but really it doesn't matter why they lost from Obama's perspective.

It's an objectively known fact Madrid and Tokyo had superior technical bids to Chicago hence my post. The IOC were the ones who said that, not me. Both Tokyo and Madrid were marked higher with their respective technical bids. There's nothing to disagree with on that point since I was merely relaying a fact.

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