• 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

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
Doctor to sue Ebola survivor for defamation
Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero (c) with Carlos III hospital colleagues following her recovery from Ebola. Photo: Pierre-Phillippe Marcou/AFP

Doctor to sue Ebola survivor for defamation

The doctor is angered by Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero's public statements to the effect that she had ignored an obvious Ebola infection risk. READ  

Brain drain
Lure of UK 'wearing off' for Spanish workers
Photo of London: Shutterstock

Lure of UK 'wearing off' for Spanish workers

The number of Spaniards signing on to the UK's national insurance scheme fell nine percent in the year to September, a sign that people from Spain may be turning their backs on the dream of a better life in Britain, UK-based property expert Borja Mateo told The Local. READ  

Carlos Slim to control Spain's struggling FCC
The deal follows months of talks with several potential investors, including with billionaire investor George Soros. Photo: AFP

Carlos Slim to control Spain's struggling FCC

Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim, the world's second-richest man, has agreed to become the main shareholder in Spain's debt-laden builder FCC as part of a capital increase, FCC said on Thursday. READ  

Spanish PM under fire over corruption plans
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in parliament on Thursday. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

Spanish PM under fire over corruption plans

Updated: the Spanish government's new plans to clean up politics in the country have been mocked by opposition parties the day after a scandal-hit minister was forced to resign over her links to a high-profile kickbacks scheme. READ  

Spain to keep prehistoric Altamira cave open
The Altamira cave is one of the world's most important sites for prehistoric rock paintings. Altamira cave art Photo:. Shutterstock

Spain to keep prehistoric Altamira cave open

The Spanish government has assured Unesco that the reintroduction of controlled visits hasn't damaged the famous rock paintings at the country's important Altamira cave site. READ  

Video: 'fascist' bulldog’s salute goes viral
The French bulldog rolls over and plays dead when its owner mentions Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spain’s up-and-coming Podemos party. Screen grab: Tómatelo con Humor/YouTube

Video: 'fascist' bulldog’s salute goes viral

The left-wing leader of Spain's Podemos party says he is amused by the antics of Benito, a French bulldog who plays dead when his owner mentions the politician's name. READ  

Spanish shops embrace Black Friday sales
Photo of busy mall Photo: Shutterstock

Spanish shops embrace Black Friday sales

Customers will get a chance to do some early Christmas shopping on the cheap in the coming days as Spanish stores copy the US tradition of post-Thanksgiving sales. READ  

Seized Greenpeace ship leaves Canary Islands
Photo: Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP

Seized Greenpeace ship leaves Canary Islands

A Greenpeace ship impounded by Spain earlier this month as it protested oil exploration off the Canary Islands was allowed to leave on Wednesday after payment of a €50,000 ($63,000) bond, a sum they expect to see refunded, the group told The Local. READ  

Catalonia crisis
Catalan self-rule plans 'road to nowhere': PM
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

Catalan self-rule plans 'road to nowhere': PM

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday called plans by the Catalan government to hold early elections as part of a push to gain independence from Spain "a step to nowhere". READ  

Health minister steps down over graft probe
The judge did not name Ana Mato as an official suspect in the corruption case but said he she benefitted from alleged illegal activity. File photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

Health minister steps down over graft probe

Spain's health minister Ana Mato resigned on Wednesday after a judge ruled she had benefitted from alleged illegal dealings carried out by her former husband as part of Spain's infamous Gürtel kickbacks scandal. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Google Maps 'undeletes' famous Cordoba mosque
National
Riot cops star in Down Syndrome calendar
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
What's On
What's on in Spain: December 2014
National
'Plane laser' finds Roman gold mines in Spain
National
From the Armada to Orwell: ten great quotes about Spain
National
34 percent of Spain's workers on €645 minimum wage
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Society
The Duchess of Alba: eight amazing facts
National
Spain's Duchess of Alba dies aged 88
International
'World's longest railway' links Madrid and China
Sponsored Article
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange
What's On
What's on in Spain: November 2014
International
MPs call on Spain to recognize Palestine
International
VIDEO: Greenpeace activist injured in Canary Islands oil clash
Education
Spaniards are speaking better English than ever: study
Politics
The Dummies' Guide to Spain's new Podemos Party
National
Ten Spanish dishes to try before you die
Property
Spain's golden visa scheme struggles to take off
National
80 percent of voters say 'yes' to independent Catalonia
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Spaniard
National
Boardgame cashes in on Spain's corruption crisis
Society
Real's Ronaldo world's second richest athlete
National
Priests slam Spain's jacuzzi-loving 'archbishop of bling'
National
Ten shocking corruption cases hurting Spain
National
Seville: Erasmus student dies in selfie fall
Travel
Top ten: brilliant Barcelona restaurants
Society
Dad told to pay child support to 29-year-old daughter
Politics
'We're sorry': Spanish PM apologizes over corruption scandals
Tech
Meet Mr Biceps: Spanish policeman heats up Instagram
National
37 arrested as massive anti-corruption raids rattle Spain
National
Spain's public holidays in 2015: Official list
Health
Drug mule 'left to die' in airport over Ebola fears
National
Viral photo shows two worlds collide at Spain's African border
National
Top Ten: the very best new Spanish words
National
Flash floods: woman dies in Canary Islands
Health
Cured: Spanish nurse with Ebola beats virus
International
Mango apologizes for 'Nazi blouse'
National
Where's the best place to live in Spain?
Travel
Top ten: great autumn getaways in Spain
National
The great Spanish cities quiz: take it now
National
Revealed: the cost of expat food in Spain
Politics
Catalan leader calls independence vote 'lite'
What's On
Games of Thrones star 'barred' from Seville film set
Education
Only one Spanish university makes world's top 200
Politics
Spanish court suspends Catalan independence vote
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

1,606
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply