The International Olympic Committee will make the first of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.
Nearly 100 IOC members will choose the host city of the 2020 Olympics — Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo — via secret ballot beginning at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time with the winner scheduled to be announced between 4 and 4:30. For more on what happens Saturday, click here.
OlympicTalk will look at the chances each city has of winning the vote. Here is a rundown of Madrid:
Madrid hopes it has the experience, influence and star power to avoid its fate of four and eight years ago.
Spain hosted the Olympics once before, the praised Barcelona 1992 Summer Games. The seventh IOC president — Juan Antonio Samaranch — was Spanish, and his son is an IOC executive board member.
This is the Spanish capital’s third straight time as a finalist to host the Summer Olympics. It came in third behind London and Paris for 2012 and second to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. How badly does Spain want the Games? It’s talked about a Barcelona bid for the 2022 Winter Games.
“They know this stuff inside out,” said Robert Livingstone, the producer of GamesBids.com, covering Olympic host city bidding. “The IOC knows them well. They know the IOC well. They have a lot of influence in the IOC. It’s such a huge positive to have all that going for them.”
Madrid’s slogan is “Illuminate the Future,” and it plans to do so with the most cost-efficient bid with many existing venues (28 of the 35, including its iconic bullring for basketball, according to The Associated Press). The thrift angle is key for a nation in an economic crisis with more than 26 percent unemployment.
“Madrid’s vision focuses on social and economic development,” the IOC wrote in its evaluation commission report in April. “Taking advantage of its existing, modern infrastructure, Madrid 2020 seeks to demonstrate that the Olympic Games can be organised with low financial investment without compromising the delivery of a high quality Olympic experience.”
Madrid has received more star backing than Istanbul or Tokyo. Its greatest all-time basketball player (Pau Gasol), tennis player (Rafael Nadal) and cyclist (Miguel Indurain) lent support, as have members of its World Cup-winning soccer team, Xavi and Iker Casillas. Not to mention the world’s two greatest soccer players, who happen to play club soccer in La Liga — Argentina’s Lionel Messi (in a video here) and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Spanish sport and the people of Madrid need the boost the Olympic Games would provide, and Madrid is ready to face this challenge,” Gasol, who is in Buenos Aires, told the AP.
The downsides? The potential loss of votes from Italian and French members, who might want to see a non-European bid win to better the chances of Rome and Paris for 2024. The poor economy as well, but Livingstone doesn’t see it as much of a problem.
“Several years down the road, economies can flip around,” Livingstone said. “They (the IOC) know that. And (Spain) is recovering a bit now. The fact that it’s weak right now is negligible.”
The AP described Madrid’s bid as “climbing.” Public support is at 91 percent, according to a Madrid bid committee poll.
“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,” Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco said, according to Agence France-Presse. “You have to be optimistic, fight to the last and wait for the decision.”
GamesBids.com ranks Madrid third out of the three cities, but Livingstone said it has enough concrete votes to get through a first round of voting, if there are multiple rounds.
“If I had to pick the safest bid, that’s probably the one,” Livingstone said.