Madrid anti-Government protests cast shadow over 2020 Olympic bid
Friday, 19 July 2013
July 19 - A shadow has been cast over Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as Spanish police clashed with thousands of protestors in the Spanish capital demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
As reported by insidethegames earlier this week, Madrid's political stability has been called to question with Rajoy facing opposition calls to resign over a party financing scandal, in which he received payoffs from a slush fund before his party won elections in 2011.
Rajoy subsequently denied the claims and insisted he will not give in to "blackmail", sparking the eruption of the anti-Government demonstrations outside the Popular Party (PP) headquarters in Madrid.
What began as a peaceful protest soon turned violent as missiles were thrown from the crowd, causing riot police to respond with the use of batons.
Several people have been injured and a number arrested.
Although on a considerably smaller scale, the trouble in Spain echoes the problems experienced by fellow 2020 Olympics bidder Istanbul when Turkey was hit by widespread – and widely publicised – anti-Government protests.
However, when questioned on the possible impact of the scandal, Madrid 2020 declined to comment and instead focused on the Government support for the bid.
"Madrid 2020 is not in the position of delivering any statement other than those related with the bid or sport issues," a spokesperson told insidethegames on Wednesday (July 17).
"What we do know is that Madrid 2020 enjoys cross party support and a very high popular support.
"The guarantees for our bid are from all three levels of Government – they are rock solid.
"That's why it is important in these times where political and economic risks loom world-wide, to have a responsible bid.
"Madrid does not promise to be ready.
"Madrid is ready."
As well as Istanbul, Madrid faces Tokyo in the race to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The winning city will be named at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires in September.
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July 2013: Political turbulence may test Madrid as 2020 campaign enters final stages