|Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid|
MADRID Inspectors from the International Olympics Committee are spending four days evaluating Madrid's candidacy for the 2010 Olympics. Probably to be called the Austerity Olympics, the city's candidacy has an ace up its sleeve: about 80% of the infrastructure needed is already in place. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy addressed the group yesterday, emphasizing the financial aspect at a time of drawbacks and unemployment. One media commentator calculated that the Olympics would generate some 83,000 jobs, not insignificant in a country with a 26% unemployment rate. Madrid is competing against Istanbul and Tokyo as host cities. Rajoy pointed out that Madrid is quite used to organizing and hosting major events, and that Spain is one of the world's top tourist destinations. This is Madrid's third bid for the world's major sports event, having lost to London for the 2012s and to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016s.>>>
Victims of the government's widespread cutbacks were out in force at several places during the IOC visit, and strikes had been announced, including by the Metro (Underground) staff. As yet, there is very little in the media about them, except to say that some protesters were against the project, and held up placards saying "CIO: people from Madrid wan't O. Games. Please eliminate us," according to ABC this morning.
Madrid's Councillor for Sport, Fernando Villalonga, a close supporter of Mayor Ana Botella, was forced to emphasize that the IOC visit 'cost very little', about €100,000 for a project that is considered a priority at the Town Hall.
Several of the inspectors have been here before, to look into the capital's venues, finances and security plans. This time they will find some additions to what they know. Among the proposed venues is the Las Ventas bullring (considered to be the 'capital' of bullfighting, but also host to tennis and fencing events in the 1920s), as well as the Retiro Park, Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium and the club's training facilities, Valdebabas. These three major venues are 'ready to use', according to Mayor Ana Botella.
As yet unfinished, but also proposed, is the La Peineta Stadium, with capacity for 65,000 and proposed for track and field events. Built in 1994, this is planned to become Atlético Madrid's stadium and is presently undergoing renovation that is due to be completed by June 2015.
Water sports would be hosted at the Aquatic Centre, where work began in 2004 but was halted in 2005. According to The Guardian, the dossier the inspectors received, stated that work would resume in 2014 and be completed by 2016.
The inspection panel have already visited Tokyo and are due for Istanbul next week. The decision by the complete IOC Committee will be announced in Buenos Aires on September 7.