Olympics: It's Rio or Madrid as Chicago snubbed for 2016 Games

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The Independent Online
(AFP) -

Rio de Janeiro or Madrid will host the 2016 Olympics after International Olympic Committee members delivered a stunning snub to favourites Chicago who had been backed by US President Barack Obama.

In a sensational first round of voting the 95 eligible voters rejected a personal plea by the most powerful man in the world and ousted Chicago in the first round.

Obama had flown in on Friday morning to appear at the final presentation but even his powerful presence and the lobbying of his wife Michelle failed to excite the members.

They were followed out in the second round by Tokyo whose pleas to host the Games for a second time fall on deaf ears.

Rio's appearance in the final two is no surprise as they had consistently impressed in the past year and a stunning piece of oratory by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the presentation sealed their place.

He declared it was not only Brazil's time but also South America's as no countyr from that continent has previously hosted the Games.

Madrid, bidding to become the first Spanish city to host the Games since Barcelona's successful 1992 edition, were seen to be rank outsiders and were as much as 16/1 with British bookmakers Ladbrokes earlier in the week.

Even Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had voiced concerns over the bid but he gave a solid performance at the presentation.

However, an impressive final presentation and the presence of former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch secured vital votes.

It sets up an intriguing head to head between two of the colossus of sports administration - Samaranch and former FIFA President Joao Havelange.

The winner will be announced at around 1630 GMT.