THE COLUMN: Alejandro Blanco, between the “traps” of Rio 2016 and his overwhelming reelection as head of the Spanish Olympic Committee

When his new term ends in 2025, Blanco will have been in office for 20 years, a milestone in Iberian Olympism.

01-12-2021 Alejandro Blanco has been re-elected as president of the COE until 2025...

The president of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), Alejandro Blanco, expressed Wednesday his "joy" for the "support" received and acknowledged being "committed" to the Spanish athletes to "maintain the level" achieved, after being re-elected in office for the fifth consecutive term in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the body.

SPAIN EUROPE MADRID SPORTS
COE
01-12-2021 Alejandro Blanco has been re-elected as president of the COE until 2025... The president of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), Alejandro Blanco, expressed Wednesday his "joy" for the "support" received and acknowledged being "committed" to the Spanish athletes to "maintain the level" achieved, after being re-elected in office for the fifth consecutive term in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the body. SPAIN EUROPE MADRID SPORTS COE

When Alejandro Blanco took office as president of the Spanish Olympic Committee on September 30, 2005, he never imagined he would be in office for 20 years.

Blanco (Orense, Galicia, 1950) was re-elected in 2009, 2013, 2017 and, as of this Wednesday, in 2021, for a new term that will last until 2025. As on the three previous occasions, he was endorsed without rival in the suffrage, with 156 votes in favor and seven blank.

100% of the Olympic federations and 92% of the non-Olympic federations supported him.

He will remain the 17th president of the COE in its new Olympic cycle.

Perhaps the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will settle the outstanding debt with Madrid and allow Blanco, in his farewell, to celebrate the hosting of the 2036 Olympic Games for the Spanish capital, if the people of Madrid bet on trying again after losing three consecutive bids.

“Madrid cannot forget the Olympic dream, it is the most prepared city in the world. We combine the great sporting and organizational level, that of our leaders and that more than 90% of the population wants the Games”.

“I have spoken to the mayor about this. They owe us an Olympic Games. The Games in Madrid have to be a real possibility, it is that we cannot renounce to a Games in Madrid, it is impossible”, said Blanco after his re-election in the Extraordinary Assembly of the COE.

Blanco personally suffered the failure of the Madrid 2016 and 2020 candidatures, in which he was in charge of the project. Before his presidency, the city had already lost the bid for 2012 in Singapore 2005.

In the IOC elections in October 2009, in Copenhagen, the Spanish capital seemed to have a good chance against Chicago, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. It went all the way to the end, where it conceded to the Brazilian candidate.

Last week, Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, was sentenced to 30 years and 11 months in prison after being found guilty of buying votes in the Copenhagen elections.

Nuzman will not go to prison until his appeals are resolved. But according to his lawyer Joao Francisco Neto, talking to Around The Rings, he will not be behind bars either because of his age: his client will be 80 years old in March and for that reason he would serve house arrest.

Neto revealed that he has already presented the reasons for the appeal to the higher court. The Court of Appeals should rule “in about six months, at least” and “Nuzman will be acquitted”, he assures.

Blanco was asked about Nuzman’s conviction. “I am disgusted. In the end it is shown that the truth is discovered. If you cheat it is discovered and you pay for it, it is very good news to clean up. We are talking about cleaning up people, not the Olympic movement.”

Before another hypothetical candidacy of Madrid, the president of the COE strives with the project of a Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees in 2030, which has yet to be officially confirmed, after combining the interests of the two autonomous communities, Catalonia and Aragon.

“These Games must be those of understanding, respect and dialogue, no matter how many political differences there are, there is a space that is sport. We all have the objective that the candidacy is the candidacy of all. This candidacy has a great significance for Spanish society”.

Alejandro Blanco, President of the Spanish Olympic Committee / SEBASTIÁN FEST
Alejandro Blanco, President of the Spanish Olympic Committee / SEBASTIÁN FEST

In 2017, Blanco had said he would not run again, but in May of this year he reconsidered his decision while from the top post he pledged to lead Spanish Olympic sport to a good harbor in the face of a global pandemic and the consequent financial crisis.

Blanco was already the longest-serving in office in the history of the COE and had surpassed the 15 years of José Moscardó (1941-1956). During this time he has known seven Secretaries of State for Sport, four of them during his last term.

On numerous occasions during his mandate he was the IOC president’s special envoy for the resolution of conflicts between National Olympic Committees and governments in Latin American countries.

At the end of October, during the General Assembly of the National Olympic Committees in Crete, Greece, he received from IOC President Thomas Bach the IOC gold medal in recognition of his solidarity work for the construction of the first sports center for refugees in the world, in Getafe, Madrid.

A year ago, the COE received the Certificate of Sustainable Sports Entity aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, making it the first Olympic committee in the world and the first Spanish sports entity to receive it.

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