"Let the Games Begin!"
Before a cross-section of eager young aspiring Olympians and few with a little more experience, the President took a break from the rigors of policymaking to deliver a much-anticipated message to the world: the United States is more than ready to welcome athletes from around the world to the sparkling Chicago lakefront for the 2016 Olympic Games:
Sixteen days away -- we're just 16 days away from the deciding vote on which world city will host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
So let's get right down to business here: The United States is eager to welcome the world to our shores. This nation would be honored to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and to serve as host to thousands of athletes and millions of visitors from around the world. And within this great country of ours, there is no better city than that than Chicago, Illinois. (Applause.)
Now, I may live in Washington these days. I love Washington, D.C. And our house here is a little bigger than the one we got in Chicago. (Laughter.) But I've called Chicago home for nearly 25 years. It's a city of broad shoulders and big hearts and bold dreams; a city of legendary sports figures, legendary sports venues, and legendary sports fans; a city like America itself, where the world -- the world's races and religions and nationalities come together and reach for the dream that brought them here.
In Chicago, old and new exist in harmony. It's a city rooted in an industrial past that laid this nation's railroads, forged this nation's steel, rebuilt itself after a great fire, and reversed the course of a mighty river. And it's also a city of bustle and gleaming promise that Mayor Daley has pledged to make the greenest in America. And that's why I think that one of the most exciting parts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is that all of the plans being made in Chicago exist within minutes of the city center; easily accessible to commerce and culture, parkland and water -- because we don't want these venues to be far-flung, all over the place. We want to host these Games where we live and work and play.
We want them in the heart of our proud city -- the city that opened the way westward in the 19th century, that showed the way skyward in the 20th century, and that is leading the way forward in the 21st century. So Chicago is ready. The American people are ready. We want these Games. We want them. (Applause.)
While the President's better half, First Lady Michelle Obama, poked fun at her husband's "pathetic" fencing skills, she assured the crowd that the First Family's hometown of Chicago is the perfect place for the Olympic torch to burn brightly:
And I have to say that I'm proud of those efforts, but I am also proud of the fact that Chicago may be the host. I cannot think of a better city to host the 2016 Games than my hometown. I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. You probably already know that. So I know a lot about this city. We have our home so close to many of the proposed venues. We can say that we are so pumped up about this, aren't we? (Laughter.)
And I can tell you, personally, what makes Chicago the ideal home for the 2016 Games and I'm very excited to be able to do that in Copenhagen. It's not just the infrastructure or the resources of the city, and it's not just the beautiful parks, because there are many. It's not that gorgeous lakefront that so many will see during the Olympic Games. And it's not just the excellent public transportation and the accommodations. What makes Chicago such a great host is its people. It's truly the people.
Read the entire transcript of the President and First Lady's remarks here.