MADRID 2020: IOC’s reality check suits ‘austerity Games’ strategy and might just worry Istanbul

By iSportconnect | March 22, 2013

By Keir Radnedge

Madrid’s proposal for a low-budget, remedy high-efficiency Olympic Games in 2020 clearly struck a chord this week with the evaluation commission. In straightened times, store as chairman Sir Craig Reedie pointed out: “The IOC believes the Games cannot get more expensive and more expensive all the time.”

The International Olympic Committee has been embarrassed in recent years by accusations that it had carelessly encouraged a significant waste of money on bids and white elephant venues.

Under the presidency of Jacques Rogge it has sought to ‘turn the tanker’ around and that strategy is one on which suits Madrid in an era when – out of sheer domestic need – it cannot afford to offer any hostages to economic fortune.

Several low-key strike protests had been enacted during the four-day visit of the commission headed by Reedie and a small group of protesters door-stepped the Eurostars Hotel, drugs objecting to bid expenditure when city staff jobs were being cut.

Reedie addressed the economic issue, hitherto considered as a heavy cloud over the Madrid bid, at his wrap-up press conference.

After pointing out that he could not be expected to foresee the state of the world or national economies in seven years’ time, he said: “We have had a very clear statement from the bid committee they believe the Spanish economy has suffered a difficult time but has stabilised and will improve. We have noted that and will include it in our report.”

Reedie skated around a question about a perception that the Olympic movement was being asked to rescue the Spanish economy and refuted a further suggestion that the analysis had been more about money and marketing than sport.

“Within the structure of the site visits the commission invited comments on finance so there is an economic factor,” he said. “But the Olympics is about sport and there is no doubt that passion and soul is very much a part of the Madrid bid.”

Both Reedie and Gilbert Felli, the Olympic Games’ executive director, further buttressed the perception of a need for economic pragmatism.

Felli valued the fact that Madrid has 80pc of venues built. He said: “We have to take into account delivery costs. The fact that something is already constructed helps a lot with delivery . . . also we have to live in the real world and every stakeholder need to make sure we won’t [create] our own inflation.

“Our partners all have tendencies to want more than last time instead of what is necessary to have. The president [Jacques Rogge] is a big fan of [controlling costs] and that is important for the IOC. It is one of the things we are always looking at.”

Madrid’s $3bn budget bears no comparison with the $19bn boasted by Istanbul. But that may prove to the Spanish capital’s advantage.