Oprah Winfrey hosts Olympians in Chicago

Oprah Winfrey speaks in Whitesboro, N.J. Satuday, Aug. 30, 2008. Winfrey is scheduled to be the keynote speaker Saturday at the annual festival in Whitesboro, a tiny, rural community founded in 1901 as a settlement for blacks leaving the South. (AP Photo/MJ Schear)
By  | 

CHICAGO (AP) -- Thousands of spectators cheered Olympic medalists Michael Phelps, Dara Torres and Kobe Bryant on Wednesday as the city of Chicago got a high-profile boost to its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Oprah Winfrey was taping the season premiere for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" at a downtown park, and she invited 150 U.S. Olympic athletes to join her. The athletes were introduced under a shower of red, white and blue confetti.

Winfrey intends the show to be both a welcome home for athletes who competed in Beijing and also a chance to showcase Chicago as the city bids for the 2016 Games, said Harpo Productions.

Hundreds of fans stood in line for hours outside Winfrey's Chicago studio last weekend to wait for tickets. Some camped out in lawn chairs. For those who couldn't get passes for the 2,000 seats, about 7,000 lawn spots were made available.

Another 2,000 seats were set aside for the Olympians' family and friends. Tickets for Winfrey's Chicago tapings are usually available only by phone and are nearly impossible to get.

The 23rd season premiere of Winfrey's talk show will air Monday.

Chicago is a finalist for the 2016 Games along with Tokyo; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Madrid, Spain. The International Olympic Committee will choose the 2016 host next year.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.