Don Quixote & the 2020 Games

Sorry – it’s the Olympics again! I swear that I’ll go find some other hobby-horse right after this post, but I just happened to come across an article in El País – and you know I don’t ordinarily discuss the Spanish press – with the irresistible title Olympic Dream Maybe, But “Low Cost”, by Bruno García Gallo (the “rooster”).

You’ll be glad to know that this is not about the Winter Games again (although with the tropically-situated Sochi, Russia having won them for 2014, why not?), but rather the 2020 Summer Games. And yes, Madrid is still interested in those even after having lost in the last two Summer Game bids – somewhat. Polls showed a full 91% of madrileños were behind the city’s bid for the 2012 Games, as compared to only 68% of Londoners. But the latter won anyway. It was a similar situation for the 2016 Games, which Madrid nonetheless lost to Rio de Janeiro. Still, as of last year at least 54% are ready to have a go again, as are all the city’s leading politicians.

In the meantime, though, the Spanish economy has fallen into quite a bit of a rough patch. While the Olympic spirit there may still be willing, the financial flesh is rather weak. Advocates are still trying hard to get a Madrid 2020 application up. They point out that the city built most of the sporting facilities it needs during its bid for the 2016 Games. (Here’s a map about that accompanying the article, they may be right: only those facilities you can see marked with a star were not built). They claim that much of any additional cost can be borne by the private sector, which after all would enjoy the touristic gold-rush that staging the Games would bring. (And here’s yet another argument from the Madrid politicians that Gallo reports here: “the [economic] crisis won’t last forever!”)

Nonetheless, we saw in yesterday’s post about Pyeongchang’s 2018 Winter Olympics triumph that selection usually boils down to money. The parsimonious attitude which Madrid will have to take to any new bid seriously argues against success. Plus, look at the competition, as Gallo does here: Rome already intends to submit a 2020 bid, as does Japan, which could have powerful sympathy on its side due to last March’s series of disasters. But most of all there will also be Durban, South Africa – and how could Durban lose? The 2010 World Cup in that country was certainly a success and, most importantly, Africa has never hosted any Olympic Games!

The piece ends: “But as one expert [sic!] commented, imagine that Madrid doesn’t present itself for 2020 in order to avoid Durban but in the end they award the Games to Rome . . .” ¡Ay caramba!

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