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'A Madrid Olympics means more jobs '

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International Olympic Committee evaluation member Claudia Bokel during a visit to the Las Ventas bullring in Madrid in March. Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP
10:54 CEST+02:00
A united Spain is prepared for the fight for Madrid to win the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games, the bid's president Alejandro Blanco told AFP in an interview.

The 62-year-old former judoka - who is also president of the Spanish National Olympic Committee - insisted the bid had united people nationwide who see it as a way of easing the dire situation of the Spanish economy.

Unemployment was at a record 27.16 percent overall at the end of the first quarter.

But such is the enthusiasm across the country that Spain's World Cup and European Championship-winning coach Vicente del Bosque has been encouraged to sign up as an unpaid volunteer.

"It is clear that hosting the Olympic Games will serve as a booster for all the economic spheres of our country," said Blanco.

"This is a project for Spain. The whole country is involved - the business world, top political and sporting authorities, the media and the whole of Spanish sport.

"However, it is citizens' support that matters the most. This support is reflected in both our surveys and those conducted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which increase day after day as we move towards September (the vote for who hosts the Games takes place on September 7 in Buenos Aires).

"There are more than 40,000 volunteers already, and interestingly, our volunteer number 40,000 is the Spanish national team coach, Vicente del Bosque.

"It is essential for all of us to reach victory and this is why we work 24/7."

Blanco disagreed with some IOC members who claim Madrid will reach the second round of voting at the expense of one of the other two candidates, Tokyo or Istanbul, because they built up a considerable amount of goodwill and a favourable reaction before finishing second behind Rio de Janeiro in the bidding for the 2016 Games.

"First of all, I have to say we respect all opinions, but we believe this is our best chance to be awarded the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee, and this is the reason why we are working and explaining our project," he said.

"We have nothing but gratitude, hope, passion and certainty in success. If we all gather as a country we may win. If we truly believe, we must fight. This is a project for Spain, aiming at achieving social transformation through sport."

Blanco said that placing the emphasis on youth was particularly important in Spain, where the rate of unemployment for those between the ages of 16 and 24 has soared to 57.22 percent.

"This bid has been designed for young people," he said.

"We have been listening to them since the beginning of the bid and we know what they want and what they expect from us. According to surveys, 90% of people under 35 support the Games in our city.

"This is the best indicator proving that youngsters see the Games as a window to opportunities, and a boost to recover from the difficult situation we are currently going through. According to our motto, illuminating their future is our priority."

Blanco also said there was no contradiction between two of the bid's claims.

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Madrid have emphasized that the costs of preparing for the Games would be minimal because most of the venues and infrastructure are already in place, while at the same time saying a Madrid win would boost employment, which traditionally for Olympic hosts means in the construction area.

However, Blanco claims the boost in employment will come from other sectors.

"The Madrid Bid has a clear message: 80% of the venues are already built, while the investments for the remaining premises are fully guaranteed," he said.

"The whole project is being developed under a SMART-city concept, which involves optimization of resources and control over investments.

"The studies carried out for our bid state an important number of jobs will be created not only in the construction sector, but also in other important areas for our economy such as tourism and the hotel industry."

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