Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo are about to put their closing arguments to the IOC -- one of the most exclusive and hard-to-read voting clubs in the world ... and we're all here waiting to see if the imminent arrival of Barack Obama will sway things the way of the Windy City.
Air Force One has just landed at Copenhagen Airport in a few minutes President Obama will breeze into the Bella Convention Centre on his way to becoming the first sitting U.S. president to address an International Olympic Committee session.
At stake are the rights to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and the Obama factor has made Chicago the odds-on favourite, according to British bookmakers. The buzz in Copenhagen this week has suggested the same but be warned: confident predictions have been spectacularly wrong in the past.
The Chicago presentation starts at 0645 GMT -- in about an hour -- with Tokyo to go next, then Rio and finally Madrid, with each presentation scheduled to last 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes
The vote begins at 1510 GMT and IOC president Jacques Rogge will announce the winner at 1630 GMT. we'll be updating regularly between now and then so please stick with us.
I particularly welcome comments, so please give us your predictions and views below.
The session is underway, with IOC president Jacques Rogge having just made his opening remarks. We're all geared up for Chicago in five minutes.
Here's a pool pic of the First Lady and the First lady of Entertainment at the Opera House last night.
This just in from Jeff Mason, our White House correspondent who is in the hall with the Chicago bid team:
Silence reins as Michelle and Barack Obama walk into the hall with the U.S. delegation. Unlike what he is accustomed to in the United States, no one stands for the U.S. president. The U.S. first lady wears a bright yellow dress. Obama smiles and helps his wife into her seat before sitting down himself on a raised platform at the front of the room. People in the room raise their digital cameras to catch a shot of the U.S. president.
Chicago are well into their presentation now. So far best moment was the mayor's reference to Jesse Owens. Waiting for the First Family...
Direct appeal to the IOC members and their families from Pat Ryan: the shopping in Chicago can rival New York and London and the main district is just a short walk from the hotel.
Eric Schmidt, the google ceo, giving his backing in a video.
Michelle obama introduces Barack as a man who knows a little bit about change
The First Lady really tugged at the hearstrings in her addess, refereing her father, who had MS.
It was an eloquent address and towards the end she suggested that giving the Olympics to Chicago would help with the new era of American engagement her husband is commited to.
The video below, by the way, features Reuters sports editor Paul Radford and sports TV producer Owen Wyatt, discussing what they expect from the presentations. Sorry about the low quality, but I had problems uploading.
Here's the key quote from Michelle Obama: "Chicago's vision is about so much more than what we can offer the Games it's about what the Games can offer all of us, inspiring this generation and building a lasting legacy for the next. It is about our responsibility as Americans to use these Games as a vehicle ... to usher in a new era of international engagement, to give us hope and to change lives all over the world."
She was a tough act to follow... even for her husband
Here's a pic from Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque.
I think the best moment from the president actualy came in the question and answer session at the end. Here is what he said: One of the legacies I want to see is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world. We are putting the full force of the white house and the state department to make sure visitors from around the world feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people.
In Chicago we have everyone. This could be a meeting in Chicago. We look like the world. Over the last several years sometimes that fundamental truth about the United States has been lost and one of the legacies of this Olympic Games in Chicago would be a restoration of that understanding of what the United States is all about.
I suspect the quote below will have resonated quite a bit
The question is, did he do enough in the presentation, or is he doing enough in a short coffee session right now, to get their votes?
This is from our Olympic beat reporter Karolos Grohmann:
from karly: "After shaking hands with senior IOC members in the hall, the Obamas went outside where they continued to have brief discussions with other IOC members, many of whom were taking pix.
Tokyo up now, and they start with a passionate plea about the environment
From from karly: Oprah Winfrey just joined president and first lady in lobby of conference hall ... much to the delight of IOC members
They've definitely changed the town. This is mostly about climate change...
Great quote from the Tokyo governor: "It is symbolic you choose the same venue as the UN climate change in December. The outcome today could be as significant as theirs."
That climate change conference is being held here, at the Bella Convention Centre.
Interesting that so far the Tokyo presentation has all been in English and French (the latter just a little). No Japanese at all.
our man karly is out and about again: "Can't compare crowds for coffee break around Japanese PM. Some polite handshakes, smiles ... even the mixed zone is a polite affair... very respectful.
and here's the first mixed zone quote from Athens 2004 Olympics gold medallist Koji Murofushi: "I am an Olympian, I grew up with Olympics and I had a
good chance today to give it back. I am a hammer thrower and today I threw in
everything. Everyone did. More than 100 percent."
Owen Wyatt has been manning the mixed zone for TV. Here are his thoughts... "Two mixed zones down and two to go. Running with the other media to catch Mr. Obama was like Pamplona without the bulls. So far no black eyes but with Rio and Madrid to come I don't like my chances.
I want one last word with Pele - who told me the other day that if he could pick one player for his team it would be Kaka!!!"
couple more fun obamas shots from our Denis Bailbouse here in the hall
And the winner is... U2.
The Irish group has so far featured in the first two bid persentations, with their song "Where the streets have no name" part of Chicago's visual presentation and lead singer Bono pictured planting a tree in Tokyo as part of the Japanese capital's promotional material (from karly)
Rio just starting their presentation now ... with Joao Havelange kicking things off. He's famous as a former FIFA president but he's an old Olympian too, having participated in Berlin in 1936 as a swimmer and in water polo in 1952 in Helsinki.
He also has an Olympic stadium named after him
Yukio Hatoyama, Japan's Prime Minister (R), and Tsunekazu Takeda, the President of Japan's Olympic Committee, applaud gymnast Resa Mishina during the presentation of the city of Tokyo's candidature for the 2016 Olympic Games to International Olympic Committee (IOC) members during the 121st IOC session in Copenhagen October 2, 2009.
Showing the Rio video now. Sepctacular scenes.