x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Desolation in Madrid as Olympic bid fails again

Madrid is dealing with the disappointment from a fourth failed attempt at winning the Olympic Games.

MADRID // Madrid was dealing with the disappointment from a fourth failed attempt at winning the Olympic Games yesterday.

Enthusiasm built up throughout the day in Madrid on Saturday as thousands of people descended on the city's gate at Puerta de Alcala, but the expectation was suddenly washed away in the evening rain as Madrid was surprisingly eliminated in the first round after a second vote was needed to separate its bid from Istanbul.

It was the third consecutive time the Spanish capital had bid for the Games after also failing in its attempt for the 1972 Games and with the likes of Paris, Berlin and Rome set to be in the running when the 2024 bid process gets underway there are serious questions as to whether a country mired in economic crisis can continue to pour millions into candidacies with no guaranteed return.

"It has been a huge blow to not win the 2020 Games," bid president Alejandro Blanco admitted afterwards.

"Right now is precisely the moment for us to take a break. We need to sit down and think about where we want to go."

The city lost its bid, despite its spirited plea that Madrid had the ability to host an austerity Games based on the vast majority of its proposed venues were already in place.

"The IOC preferred excess to austerity, although this doesn't excuse the failure of the Spanish lobby," said sports daily Marca in its editorial yesterday.

Yet, there were also other areas where Madrid's candidacy was found wanting, particularly on the issue of doping.

After a disjointed presentation before the IOC members on Saturday afternoon which was also unfortunately disrupted by a power cut caused by a severe storm in the Argentine capital, there were just two questions for the bid team to respond to.

However, instead of inquiring about Madrid's infrastructure or investment, the questions centred on what the country was doing to clean up its tarnished image in the light of the Operation Puerto cycling scandal.

After a four-month long court case this year, blood bags seized from the disgraced doctor Eufemiano Fuentes were ordered to be destroyed rather than released and those involved in the doping ring named.

Since the end of the Puerto case in May, there has already been a change in the country's doping laws enforcing stricter sanctions both on the dopers and those who administer the products.