Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon confirmed the Spanish capital’s candidacy on Wednesday, citing Pyeongchang’s victory as providing the necessary push for Madrid to bid again.
“There’s no doubt that if a European city had been hosting the 2018 Games then our hopes on bidding again would probably not have been so roundly considered,” Ruiz-Gallardon said. “The IOC sent out a very robust message that persistence can lead to victory.”
Last week, the South Korean city of Pyeongchang was awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics, beating European rivals Munich and Annecy, France, after narrow defeats for the 2010 and 2014 Games.
Madrid lost bids to London for the 2012 Olympics and Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games.
Rome and Istanbul are also bidding for the 2020 Olympics, with Tokyo expected to announce its candidacy later in the week. Other potential contenders could come from the United States, South Africa, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
The Spanish Olympic Committee still has to formally approve the Madrid bid later this month before it is formally submitted to the International Olympic Committee by the Sept. 1 deadline.
Ruiz-Gallardon repeatedly mentioned that the Madrid bid would provide a much needed boost to Spain’s economy, which has been battered by recession and unemployment. Terms such as austerity measures were mentioned throughout the news conference.
The mayor said Madrid’s bid budget would be half that of 2016, while not one Euro would be spent on infrastructure before the IOC votes for the 2020 host in Buenos Aires in September 2013.
“Our obligation is to look to the future and not be shortsighted. We’re convinced by then that Spain will have gotten through the economic crisis and be in fine shape to host,” Ruiz-Gallardon said.
The mayor said he believes public opinion would remain in favor of the games despite the current financial problems and an unemployment rate above 20 percent.
“I believe the public understands this decision,” he said.
Nearly 3,400 people were divided on the issue in a survey carried out by sports daily Marca’s website Wednesday.
“Madrid has already completed a high percentage of the necessary infrastructure to organize the Olympic and Paralympic Games and can also count on the experience of the past two bids,” said Ruiz-Gallardon, who added that 80 percent of the venues are ready.
“The already completed work means the cost of the 2020 bid will be significantly reduced. It would also provide an economic boost and reactivate the economies of Madrid and Spain.”
2016 bid chief Mercedes Coghen ruled herself out of leading the 2020 team.
“I think a breath of fresh air is good,” Coghen was quoted as saying by Europa Press. “Madrid 2020 can count on me, but as more of a volunteer.”
Former Secretary for Sport Jaime Lissavetzky, who helped lead the 2016 bid, also lent his support to the 2020 effort.
“There will be less money spent and absolute transparency in all costs,” said Lissavetzky, Ruiz-Gallardon’s Socialist Party opponent at the mayor’s office. “We’re thinking about Madrid and its citizens. It’s a great opportunity to start an economic movement, it’s a great opportunity for Madrid and a great opportunity for Spain.”