IOC: 2020 Madrid Olympic bid costs 'attainable'

HAROLD HECKLE Associated Press Published:

MADRID (AP) -- The IOC believes the $1.9 billion construction costs for holding the 2020 Olympics in Madrid are "attainable" for the recession-hit country.

"The IOC is very well aware the games simply cannot get more expensive, more expensive and more expensive every time," IOC vice president Craig Reedie said Thursday at the close of his evaluation commission's four-day inspection of Madrid's Olympic bid.

With Spain sinking into a second recession in three years and with unemployment at 26 percent, the financing of Madrid's Olympic project was always going to be a key factor.

"We were certainly made aware by the bid committee where the Spanish economy is, and we thank Madrid for their openness and honesty," Reedie said. "They told us that the Spanish economy has had a very difficult time, but that it has stabilized and will improve, and we have noted that in our report."

Madrid organizers say 28 of the 35 venues are already built, meaning construction and infrastructure costs will be relatively modest.

"As chair of the commission I think we have looked closely at the capital costs and we believe them to be attainable," Reedie said.

Gilbert Felli, IOC executive director for the Olympic Games, said the inspectors had looked at the bid committee's budget "with good eyes." He said that taking into account "our past experience, we believe that the numbers proposed to us are feasible."

Madrid is competing against Tokyo and Istanbul. The panel has already visited the Japanese capital and will be in Istanbul next week.

By comparison, Tokyo's budget for capital costs is $4.9 billion, and Istanbul's is $19.2 billion.

The full IOC will select the 2020 host city by secret ballot on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"We were greatly impressed by what we have seen here," Reedie said.

Outside the hotel where the IOC was based, a group of 30 health care workers protested by blowing whistles and sounding an ambulance siren.

Reedie said he had seen "a couple of protests" but that none of the demonstrators had asked to speak to members of the IOC.

"We've also seen the enthusiasm for the games that exists in Madrid, and a great interest in sport that exists in Spain," he said.

Felli said Madrid had clearly learned from its previous bids, having lost to London for the 2012 Olympics and Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games.

Felli said Madrid had also already invested in a largely modern transport infrastructure.

"We believe the project is good," he said.