October 29 - Mexico's International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member Mario Vázquez Raña (pictured) has warned the Spanish city Madrid that if they do not triumph in their bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, they will find it very difficult to host the event in the future.
Raña is undoubtedly the most important and influential figure in South America's Olympic Movement because, as well as his high-ranking IOC position, he serves as President of both the Pan American Sports Organisation (PASO) and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
The 79-year-old from Mexico City is currently here overseeing the 2011 Pan American Games that are taking place, but has said that Madrid must finally deliver a winning bid in 2020 after two recent failed bids for the event in 2012 and 2016, where they lost out to London and Rio de Janeiro respectively.
"If Madrid does not win on this occasion, it will be difficult to win on another," said Raña, who will not vote on where the 2020 Games are held at the session in Buenos Aires in September 2013, as his IOC membership will cease at the end of next year when he turns 80.
"Now is the moment for Madrid to win."
Raña, though, feels that the first phase of the bid is in good shape with Alejandro Blanco (pictured), the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) and leader of the Madrid 2020 bid, doing a good job of lobbying for votes, particularly on his recent visit here.
"It is taking off well," Raña said.
"Blanco is doing a good job.
"He secured several votes here [in Guadalajara].
"Blanco is in touch with many people and he is well liked.
"I think that in Latin America, the majority or almost everyone will be there [for Madrid], as well as some from the Caribbean for sure.
"I think Madrid's victory is closer than ever before."
Madrid is one of six bidders for the 2020 Olympics alongside Baku, Doha, Istanbul, Rome and Tokyo.
Influential Canadian IOC member Dick Pound (pictured) recently claimed that the two European bidders, Madrid and Rome, should be worried about the impact of their countries' severe economic problems at present as it could harm their bids, something Raña agrees with.
"I hardly ever agree with Pound but in this case, I do believe that the crisis can do a little bit of harm," Raña said.
"However, I think Madrid and Rome can make progress in solving the economic problem before the IOC takes its decision."
Raña also criticised a proposal made by Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Junior - son of the long-time IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who died last year - to reintroduce the policy that the IOC should visit all bidding cities before they become candidate cities.
The visits to all bidding cities were prohibited by his father, who was trying to rein in a corruption scandal that erupted in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, where it was claimed that IOC members were bribed for their vote.
"One is not the same as one's children," said Raña of Samaranch Junior and his proposal.
"I adore my children, I love them very much, but they are not like me in many respects.
"The rules that are now in force in the IOC need to be followed in order not to repeat the problems that President Samaranch had to curb.
"Juan Antonio Junior has very good things.
"He speaks English and he shows it every time he talks.
"He is a very smart kid.
"But to say that the rules should be changed is going against the path traced by his father and that is not good."
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