Poor economic conditions should be seen as "opportunity, not problem" says head of Madrid 2020 Olympic bid

Saturday, 24 September 2011
By Duncan Mackay

Alejandro_Blanco_giving_speech_September_22_2011September 24 - The leader of Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics has defended its campaign in the wake of criticism that with Spain facing a major economic crisis' that the money could be spent better elsewhere.

Spain is Europe's fifth largest economy but are fears that it will face the same financial problems that Greece is currently battling with and will require a bailout from its European neighbours to remain solvent.

The Government insist that their economy is robust enough to withstand the crisis but Alejandro Blanco, the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), who earlier this month was appointed to head Madrid's bid, has acknowledged that the financial crisis will not help their bid.

But he has claimed that a successful bid could help rebuild Spain's economy.

"The current situation is the most adverse in a long time," Blanco admitted.

"But next to a difficulty, there is always an opportunity."

Rome, one of Madrid's five rivals to host the Games, is in a similar situation with the Italian economy also under severe pressure.

"If there is criticism [of our bid], it concerns the economic situation in Italy and Spain," said Blanco.

"But we are talking about investments, not spending.

"The Games are needed, notonly for Madrid, but for Spain .

"This is the best way out of this [economic] situation and the best way to promote Spain.

"The Atlanta Games [in 1996] left $100 million (£65 million/€74 million) profit, Sydney [2000], $75 million (£48 million/€56 million) and Barcelona [1992] represented a growth of 0.3 of [Spain's] gross domestic product.

"In addition to transforming the city and changing the mentality of people, we should never forget the economic contribution of the Games [to a city]."

This will be Madrid's fourth bid for the Olympics.

They first bid for the 1972 Olympics, which were awarded to Munich, and then lost out in the race to host 2012 - given to London - and 2016 - which Rio de Janeiro won.

The example of Pyeongchang, who earlier this year were awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics having lost their previous consectutive bids, should give Madrid hope but there are reports that the Spanish capital will have only half the budget they did for their 2016 campaign, when they spent €37.8 million (£34.7 million/$51.1 million)

"If we have half of the budget and we win, I request to be appointed Economy Minister,' said Blanco, who called for Spanish companies to help fund the bid.

"We need a sponsorship law.

"Companies which invest in sport should get better tax treatment."

The bookmakers have surprisingly installed Tokyo as the 2/1 favourites to win the campaign with listed Madrid and Rome as joint second-favourites at 9/4.

But most experts believe that Doha and Istanbul represent the greatest threat as both fit in with what seems to the trend for picking new territorires.

"If you worry about the opposition, you have already lost," Blanco said.

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