Madrid's new Mayor pledges backing to 2020 Olympic bid despite massive austerity drive

Tuesday, 03 January 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Ana Botella_sworn_in_as_Madrid_MayorJanuary 3 - Madrid's new Mayor Ana Botella (pictured) has promised that the city's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will not be affected by the economic crisis affecting Spain.

The outspoken right-leaning politician from the Popular Party, the 58-year-old wife of the country's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, made the pledge while at the same time vowing to cut the Spanish capital's €6.3 billion (£5.2 billion/$8.2 billion) debt. 

Botella has promised to slash €3.112 billion (£2.595 billion/$4.063) off Madrid's debt by 2016 but claimed that she would continue to back the Olympic bid.

"Among our aims, Madrid's effort to be an Olympic city has an important place -- a commitment that we are renewing with our eyes on the 2020 Games," she said after being sworn in.

"To accomplish it, no new spending is needed until the International Olympic Committee's decision, because we have already built 80 percent of the necessary infrastructure."

This is Madrid's third consecutive bid for the Olympics, having lost out on 2012 to London and 2016 to Rio de Janeiro, when they reached the final two. 

Madrid is considered the outsider on this occasion in a race that also includes Baku, Doha, Istanbul, Rome and Tokyo. 

Bringing the Olympics to Madrid, the biggest capital city in Europe never to have staged them, was a personal crusade of former Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon.

But he stood down after he was named as Spain's Justice Minister by new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

That left the way open for Botella, a lawyer by profession who had been responsible for Madrid's social services and latterly the environment having been elected as a member of the City Council in 2003, to take over. 

"We have already managed to substantially limit our budget and reduce the debt," she said.

"Through this path of budgetary discipline we will achieve a balance between revenues and spending in the coming year," she added.

"We will cut the debt burden by a further €3.112 billion (£2.595 billion/$4.063) by 2016."

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