• Spain edition
 
Madrid pins hopes on low-budget Olympic bid
People at a Madrid exhibition for the city's candidature for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Madrid is bidding against Istanbul and Tokyo. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

Madrid pins hopes on low-budget Olympic bid

Published: 04 Sep 2013 09:14 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Sep 2013 09:14 GMT+02:00

The Spanish capital is banking on a low-cost $5 billion (€3.8 billion) Olympic bid that relies heavily on existing stadiums to surprise Tokyo and Istanbul when Olympic chiefs make their decision in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

It is a tactic of necessity for the Madrid 2020 team, backed by the city, the region and the central government.

Madrid has debts of €7.4 billion ($9.8 billion); the wider Madrid region is in debt to the tune of €21.6 billion; and Spain's overall public debt stands €923 billion, equal to 88.2 percent of the country's entire annual economic output.

Read The Local's opinion piece on whether Madrid should host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Madrid 2020 is proposing to spend $3.1 billion to put on the Games, plus another $1.9 billion in construction investment.

It is a modest sum compared to London 2012's estimated cost of £8.8 billion pounds, or $13 billion.

Madrid says it can save money because 28 of the 35 venues already exist and only four permanent structures will be added, including an Olympic Village of 19 apartment blocks, to be built with private investment and later used as social housing.

As recession-hit Madrid residents protest health and education cuts, and with popular unease over Olympic spending already evident in Brazil ahead of Rio 2016, a more costly bid could have been difficult to sell at home and abroad.

One member of the minor left-wing opposition Izquierda Unida in Madrid city hall, Jorge Garcia Castano, derided the bid earlier this year in an opinion piece headlined "The Hunger Games", criticizing it as wrong-headed in a period of financial and economic crisis.

But an International Olympic Committee-commissioned poll found 76-percent popular support for Madrid 2020 in the capital, and 81 percent in the rest of the country.

"We need it more than ever"

"Most of the investment to celebrate and organize 2020 has already been done. Madrid today, unlike other cities, does not have to turn itself upside down with works across the whole city," said Juan Maria Gay de Liebana, economist and professor at Barcelona University.

The investment should be financed as much as possible so that payments are made in the 2018–2020 period, he said, a time when the Spanish economy "in principle" should be growing and the income from tourists and benefits from business investment would be visible.

Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco has said that in the seven weeks from the opening of the London Games to the closing of the Paralympics, an extra 2.6 billion pounds or €3 billion entered the city.

Madrid offered a no-risk option as host for the Games despite the economic crisis, he said in an interview with new agency AFP in the run-up to the decision.

"The investment required to have everything ready is not affected at all by the crisis. That is why we have the citizens' support," Blanco said.

"We are all in high spirits, we all have a good feeling about it, but we also realize that there is a vote and the result could go any way. You have to be optimistic, fight to the last and wait for the decision."

Madrid 2020 bid organizers say hosting the Games in Madrid would provide a €3.87-billion boost to the Spanish economy and generate 83,000 full-time jobs.

"I sincerely believe that the Games would revitalize the economy, though they would not be a panacea," Madrid Mayor Anna Botella said in an interview with leading daily El Pais a week before the decision.

But analysts say it is hard to predict the economic impact accurately.  

"It is obviously a plus if you can afford it, if you have got the infrastructure built and you can bring people in to use some of these things," said Edward Hugh, independent economist based in Catalonia.

"But since we have no idea where the Spanish economy is going to be in 2020 it is very hard to make more than very general platitude-type statements."

Whereas the Barcelona Games in 1992 had transformed the city, opening up beachfront areas that still lure visitors today, Madrid's more modest ambitions could have a slighter long-term impact, he said.

After failing to win the Games in 1972, 2012 and 2016, many people in Madrid believe it could be fourth time lucky, and they hope for a boost to a national economy that has been in recession for two years with a jobless rate of more than 26 percent.

"We need it more than ever. It is going to create jobs and that will give us some motivation, a dream for the young," said 23-year-old Diego Casada, visiting a Madrid 2020 exhibition at the city hall.

Gildo Seisdedos, an economist and lecturer at IE Business School, said Madrid had been smart to stress the infrastructure it already has rather than mounting grand projects like Brazil's for 2016 or Istanbul's rival bid for 2020.

"The country is going through such a restructuring and such cost cutting that it is impossible for these Games make us commit the error of inflating structure and equipment investments," Seisdedos said.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Catalan mayor charged over Russian mafia links
Xavier Crespo, a former politician with Catalonia's ruling CiU party, is now facing up to two and half years in prison for accepting bribes over a period of eight years. Photo: CiU

Catalan mayor charged over Russian mafia links

The former mayor of the Catalan town of Lloret de Mar is facing bribery and graft charges after the region's high court ruled there was strong evidence of a criminal link between him and Russian crime boss Andrei Borisovich Petrov. READ  

IAG snaps up new Airbus jets for Iberia
President of Iberia and Chairman of International Airlines Group Antonio Vazquez poses during the presentation of Iberia new logotype in Madrid in October 2013. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

IAG snaps up new Airbus jets for Iberia

International Airlines Group said Monday it has finalized a deal to buy eight long-haul Airbus A330-200 aircraft worth $1.48 billion (€1.15 billion) at list prices for Spain's Iberia airlines. READ  

'Hit-and-run' politician smacked with mic
A swarm of journalists surrounded the 62-year-old former president of Madrid as she walked up the steps of a criminal court in the Spanish capital. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

'Hit-and-run' politician smacked with mic

Controversial Spanish politician Esperanza Aguirre has become Monday's social media sensation after a journalist hit her in the face with a microphone as she was arriving at a court hearing. READ  

Spain's royal 'bad boy' to be sent to UK school
Froilán made national headlines in 2012 when at just 14 he shot himself in the foot (literally) while out hunting with his father. Photo: Juan Carlos Hidalgo/AFP

Spain's royal 'bad boy' to be sent to UK school

Felipe VI's nephew, fourth in line to the Spanish throne, continues to be viewed as the black sheep of the royal family after being kicked out of his school for failing his end-of-year exams twice. READ  

Catalonia crisis
Catalonia problem needs constitutional fix: PSOE
The leader of Spain's socialist opposition PSOE party Pedro Sánchez. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto

Catalonia problem needs constitutional fix: PSOE

Spain needs to find a constitutional solution to the "serious problem" of Catalonia, the leader of Spain's major opposition party said on Monday, calling on the government to participate in a major revamp of the 1978 document. READ  

Madrid fights traffic jams with city centre car ban

Madrid fights traffic jams with city centre car ban

Authorities in the Spanish capital are looking to restrict access to drivers who don't live in the city's most central neighbourhoods by imposing €90 ($115) fines on cars that breach the new regulations. READ  

Tourism talk
Spain welcomes record 9 million tourists in August
Photo of Albarracin: Shutterstock

Spain welcomes record 9 million tourists in August

The number of foreign visitors to Spain topped 9 million in August, the highest number ever and up nearly 9 percent on the same month in 2013. READ  

Ebola outbreak
Spanish priest with Ebola won't receive ZMapp
An image of the the plane used to transport Manuel Garcia Viejo back to Spain. Photo: Spanish Ministry of Defence

Spanish priest with Ebola won't receive ZMapp

UPDATED: A Catholic missionary infected with the deadly Ebola virus who arrived in Madrid early on Monday morning after being flown home from Sierra Leone will not be treated with the experimental ZMapp medication as global supplies have dried up. READ  

Pro-lifers slam delays to tough new abortion law
Spanish daily El Mundo recently reported the plan was unlikely to ever make it into law because of divisions inside the government. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

Pro-lifers slam delays to tough new abortion law

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Madrid on Sunday, accusing the government of betrayal amid reports lawmakers are poised to abandon plans for tough new abortion laws. READ  

Sport
Ronaldo praised as Real win 8-2 in La Liga
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match against RC Deportivo de la Coruna. AFP Photo/Miguel Riopa

Ronaldo praised as Real win 8-2 in La Liga

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti lauded Cristiano Ronaldo's killer instinct in front of goal after the Portuguese scored his 23rd hat-trick for Los Blancos in a 8-2 rout at Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
National
Loud porn movie scares locals into calling cops
National
'We'll axe Catalan autonomy but won't send in tanks'
National
Spain's Thatcher square defaced by 'Brits'
National
Top 10: best Spanish movies of all time
National
Gravedigger suspended for corpse photo gaffe
Society
Named: the best city to live in Spain
National
Catalonia's 'Diada': 5 things you need to know
Travel
Top ten amazing activities in Tenerife
National
Spain opens door to ban on burqas
Travel
Top ten: best bike rides in Spain
Travel
Spain to reopen 'world's most dangerous walk': The Camino del Rey
National
'Catalonia could be the shock Spain needs'
National
Office slang: Top ten Spanish expressions
Sport
Think you know Spanish football? Try these amazing facts
International
Australia set to welcome young Spanish workers
Opinion
Is tourism destroying Barcelona?
Society
Fashion fail: Zara pulls plug on 'Holocaust shirt' for kids
National
Man hurt as friend swaps ice bucket for plane
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
Politics
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
International
Spanish police mistake Morocco's king for people smuggler
What's On
What's on in Spain: September
Society
Miss Spain comes out of closet on Instagram
Travel
Top ten: Spain's best natural swimming pools
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,697
jobs available