IOC evaluation commission begins visit to Madrid

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The bid from the Spanish capital city of Madrid to host the 2020 Olympic Games is under the spotlight when the Evaluation Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visits the city to investigate the details of the city's bid.

The delegates arrive on Sunday afternoon and attend a reception held by the Mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella and the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, before getting down to work on Monday morning.

The four days of the visit, which is officially ended by Prince Felipe of Asturias at midday on Thursday will see the Commission sit through presentations on the 14 themes required by the IOC Candidacy file, as well as visiting the bid venues, many of which have already been constructed for different events.

The fact many of the proposed venues already exist is one of the main attractions of the Madrid candidacy. The city presented candidacies for the 2012 and 2016 Games, finishing behind Paris and eventual host city, London in the race for the 2012 Olympics and losing out to Rio de Janeiro in its attempt to host the 2016 Olympics.

The city aims to use venues such as the Las Ventas bullring, the Caja Magic, where the Madrid Masters Tennis tournament is held every year, while the IFEMA exhibition center will also host events.

This was attractive in previous bids, but with Spain now deep in an economic crisis, this could almost be described as the 'austerity' bid with 25 out of the 35 venues already built and the budget for the Madrid 2020 campaign reduced by 25 percent.

However, the city will have to also convince the IOC evaluation commission that the bid is not just economically viable, but will offer the best Games of the three candidate cities: Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul.

The Commission visits Madrid after a successful visit to Tokyo, which was praised for its organization, presentations and the positive attitude shown by potential athletes and on March 24 they begin their visit to Istanbul, which currently counts on a more buoyant economy than Madrid.

And there will be no hiding the effects of an economic crisis where the country is suffering the cutbacks imposed by central, regional and local governments.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday see strikes held on the Madrid metro, which will complicate transport in the Spanish capital, while there is also a scheduled strike by the 186 workers at the Madrid Club de Campo (Country Club), where the archery, golf and modern pentathlon events would be held in the event of the Madrid bid being successful.

Weighed against this will be the chance to visit iconic sites such as Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas will be the guide.

David Beckham was able to help work a miracle as London claimed the 2012 Olympics, will Casillas be able to work his magic in a similar way? The answer will be made known on September 7 in Buenos Aires.

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