Madrid takes the first steps on a long road to bid again to host the Olympic Games

The announcement that Madrid is once again interested in the Games was precipitated in recent days during a radio interview with the deputy mayor of the Spanish capital, Begoña Villacís.

Deputy Mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís (left) and the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida (center).
Gustavo Valiente - Europa Press
Deputy Mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís (left) and the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida (center). Gustavo Valiente - Europa Press

MADRID - Few cities in the world have been so clear in their desire to host the Olympic Games, and perhaps none has received three such hard slaps in the face in a row, which is what happened to Madrid with its bids for 2012, 2016 and 2020.

Eight years after the then mayor of the Spanish capital, Ama Botella, tearfully left the Buenos Aires hall where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Tokyo as the winner, Madrid is back in the running.

Madrid 2036? Not necessarily, says Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), who is well aware of the reasons for the defeats to London in Singapore 2005, Rio de Janeiro in Copenhagen 2009 and Tokyo in Buenos Aires 2013.

“There is no date,” the Spanish Olympic leader assured Around the Rings. “What we are doing is starting to work with the organization of international championships and events to organize the Olympic Games in the future. In the future!”.

Alejandro Blanco, Presidente of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) / EFE/Chema Moya/Archivo
Alejandro Blanco, Presidente of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) / EFE/Chema Moya/Archivo

That future is closer or further away depending on who you look at in Madrid. The announcement that Madrid is once again interested in the Games was precipitated in recent days during a radio interview with the deputy mayor of the Spanish capital, Begoña Villacís.

“Yes, it is going to aspire to organize an Olympic Games,” said Villacís, who belongs to the small liberal-leaning “Ciudadanos” party, which co-governs with the Popular Party (PP) in Madrid.

Villacís is in charge of the sports area of the city, and believes that the Olympic world “has a debt” with Madrid and does not see financial problems for the postulation: “A very important investment has already been made and now it would not have to be done”.

Villacís’ words annoyed the mayor of the capital, José Luis Martínez Almeida, of the PP, who sought to lower expectations.

“We have to be very prudent, there have been three candidacies in which we have not obtained the headquarters of the Olympic Games. It is essential that we have minimum guarantees of success and those minimum guarantees only start from the unity of the institutions and complicity with the people of Madrid,” said the mayor in a statement.

Ana Botella, former mayor of Madrid
Ana Botella, former mayor of Madrid

However, Villacís was ready: “Madrid cannot be denied an Olympic Games and I believe that 2036 has to be our year”.

Facing the danger of a fiasco, Martínez Almeida met with Blanco, they talked about the intention of “turning Madrid into an Olympic venue one day” and that for that there must be “a broad social agreement” and “institutional unity”, which is precisely what does not seem easy to achieve in the Spanish candidacy for the 2030 Winter Games, where the local dispute begins with the very name of the bid.

The Spanish media covered the revival of Madrid’s Olympic ambitions, especially after Isabel Díaz Ayuso, head of Madrid’s regional government, said the city “deserves” the Games.

Radio Televisión Española (RTVE), one of the country’s main media outlets, analyzed the chances of success of an eventual Madrid bid.

“The very rotation between continents, the unwritten rule that the IOC usually maintains so that the Games roll around the planet in an equitable manner, would favor a supposed Madrid bid to host the 2036 Games. After Paris in 2024, Europe would say goodbye to the Games until at least 2036, after the Americas in 2028 and Australia in 2032. The financial security currently sought by the IOC would leave little chance for a hypothetical and increasingly distant first Games in Africa”.

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