Madrid bid for 2020 Olympics overcomes opposition to be given green light

Wednesday, 20 July 2011
By Duncan Mackay

Madrid_City_HallJuly 20 - Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics was officially given the go-ahead by the City Council today despite opposition from two smaller parties who claimed that Spain's current economic crisis meant that the plan should be dropped.

The Izquierda Unida (IU) and Union Progreso y Democracia (UPyD) parties opposed what will be the city's third consecutive bid for the Games, claiming that with the Spanish city in debt to the tune of €7 billion (£6.1 billion/$9.9 billion), the money would be better spent on protecting public services.

The IU had decided to withhold its support "in the belief that Madrid's goal as a city should not be to organise an Olympic Games but instead a fairer project that is more balanced in a political and social sense," spokesman Angel Perez said.

UPyD spokesman David Ortega added: "We cannot ask citizens to make this enormous effort because in the end it will be them who pay the bills.

"It's not acceptable that there is no money for senior citizens' homes, public schools or assistance for small and mid-sized firms but there is for the sporting facilities for the Olympic Games."

The vote was still carried easily, though, thanks to the support of Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon's conservative Partido Popular (PP) and the Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol (PSOE), which rules at national level.

"We cannot let this opportunity pass," Deputy Mayor Manuel Cobo told legislators.

Madrid's previous bids had ended in disappointment when they were beaten by London for 2012 and Rio de Janeiro for 2016.

They had also lost out for the 1972 Olympics, which were awarded to Munich.

Manuel_Cobo_talking_on_Madrid_Olympic_2020_bid_July_20_2011
Cobo (pictured right) claimed that 80 percent of the infrastructure needed to stage the 2020 Games was already in place, while PSOE spokesman Jaime Lissavetzky - who had been Spain's Sports Minister during the last campaign - suggested €20 million ($28.4 million) could be raised from private sources that would render the bid "zero cost".

Madrid's failed bid for 2016 cost the city €37.8 million (£33.3 million/$53.6 million).

Perez claimed that up to 76 per cent of citizens in Madrid were opposed to the bid.

But it has already received support from the Comunidad de Madrid, The Madrid Confederation of Employers and Industries anbd trade unions CCOO and UGT.

Madrid are one of three cities to have declared for 2020 alongside Rome and Tokyo, although Doha and Istanbul are also expected to put themselves forward before the deadline on September 1. 

The decision as to which city will host the Games is due at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013. 

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