Photo: Madrid 2020 Summer Olympic Committee
The Madrid 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee on Monday began efforts to win over a team of visiting IOC inspectors, getting support in that task from Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
After a lengthy morning session filled with presentations on the city’s merits, the International Olympic Committee representatives boarded a bus for their initial tour of the capital’s sporting facilities.
The IOC panel, accompanied by Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco, capital Mayor Ana Botella and other officials, paid visits to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where the soccer final would be held; the Las Ventas bull ring (basketball); the Community of Madrid Sports Center (volleyball); and Buen Retiro park (beach volleyball).
The group was welcomed to the Bernabeu by the president of the Real Madrid soccer club, Florentino Perez, and the team’s veteran goalkeeper, Iker Casillas.
The stalwart shot-stopper for the Spanish national squad that won the 2010 World Cup even took up his accustomed post in front of the Blancos’ net so the visitors could try their luck with penalty kicks.
On the first morning of the IOC team’s four-day visit, Premier Rajoy delivered a strong message of support on behalf of all of Spain for the capital city’s bid.
He pledged Spain would “go all out” to bring the world’s premier international sporting event to Madrid for the first time (the Games were held in Barcelona in 1992), adding that his government fully backs the project.
“We’re prepared and we’re ready to organize an event as important as the Olympic Games,” Rajoy said.
Madrid is competing with Tokyo and Istanbul to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and the Paralympic Games.
The host city for the 2020 Summer Games will be announced in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7.