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Open Letter to the Members of the International Olympic Committee


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Pass the baton to Madrid

Honourable Members of the IOC,

I am writing to you to add my voice to those more knowledgeable and authorized, who, next Wednesday will defend Madrid’s candidacy for the 2020 Games before your General Assembly in Lausanne. I have no other entitlement to do this other than that of being the senior director of Spanish newspapers, and maybe the senior too in the democratic world, as I have 33 years experience competing sportingly for the readers’ trust. But I know enough regarding the Olympic Movement to affirm that, just as you never yield to any kind of power, virtually anyone at all can contribute to the shaping of your criteria and the foundation of your decisions.

This has been the key to transforming the Olympics into one of the world's main driving forces: you have always listened to everyone. From the Heads of State seating in the stadium boxes to the everyday folk in the stands. From the typical fans to the well-versed experts. No other institution has so openly promoted the debates which affect it -professionalism, sponsorship, doping, marketing, politicisation of sports- as has the International Olympic Committee. And it is that permeability, that lack of prejudice, that surprising capacity for change and adaptation that has enabled you to overcome all crises, both internal and external, with unprecedented vitality and strength.

"Each one of you alone responds before your own conscience with your secret, non-transferable vote"

You are the guardians of the flame, the keepers of a legend that embodies the best of humankind during a particularly tumultuous period of our civilisation. Each and every one of you wishes the best for the Olympic Movement because you know that promoting competition and fair contest in sports is a form of safeguarding the good of humanity. My trust lies in this ideal because I believe that, from the modesty of a mere parishioner writing to the hierarchy, I can help you achieve this.

Although you decide collectively, each one of you alone responds before your own conscience with your secret, non-transferable vote. It is for that reason you have been compared so many times to the cardinals of the Catholic Church when they meet in a conclave to elect the new Pope. Normally you do not choose a person, but rather a city, but this time, in September in Buenos Aires, you will not only have to select the venue for the 2020 Games but also the new president of the Committee. Therefore, what is in your hands, twice over, is the continuity of the golden age of the Olympic Movement forged during the presidencies of Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge.

Now I will explain why I think Madrid could be the link to guarantee the continuation of this chain of splendour. But let me first recount the parallels between the major religions and the IOC, with the help of something that I experienced personally during the Atlanta Games. Without carefully choosing his words, president Samaranch declared in a radio broadcast that the Olympics were "more important" than Catholicism because they had "more followers". This irritated archbishop John Donahue, who then forbade a Mexican priest to say Mass in the Olympic Suite of the Marriott Hotel. As his old friend, I accompanied Samaranch to the archbishop's residence. He was worried about the repercussions of the incident and didn't know exactly how to work out the situation. He had decided to give him all types of explanations and even apologise, but was unsure whether that would be enough to placate the archbishop. We arrived at the archbishop's elegant residence on Wesley Street and I stayed in the entrance hall. The meeting went on longer than it should have, but Samaranch came out smiling. Once in the car, he explained to his secretary and I the key to the agreement:

- Three tickets for the closing ceremony and three for the athletics on Saturday... Annie, don't forget to send them to the archbishop tomorrow without fail.

Are you aware that these days there is not one political or religious leader able to resist the fascination of the Olympic Movement? Sports policies are a priority for any government which prides itself on working for the welfare of its citizens who live and breathe sport with the same spirit as a religion. I witnessed in Los Angeles and Barcelona, in Atlanta and in Sydney, how president Samaranch’s secretary, the French Basque Annie Intxauspe, distributed IOC pins on the streets as if they were relics of saints.

"Madrid has attempted to claim this honour three times consecutively and three times consecutively it has surpassed the IOC requirements"

History has shown us too many times how a spiritual impulse can result in fanaticism and tragedy. That is why it is so important for you to ensure that the Olympic Movement continues being an instrument of universal accord and a source of positive values and good examples for the young, especially in times of crisis during which one finds so many motives for nihilism and desperation.

Everything largely depends which you know only too well on being good at the relay in that endless pilgrimage which carries the Olympic torch, from city to city, to all confines of the world. Madrid has attempted to claim this honour three times consecutively and three times consecutively it has surpassed the IOC requirements and has been proclaimed finalist. A la tercera va la vencida, "third time lucky" as we say in Spanish; and it is just that you make this saying reality.

Ask anyone about the newspaper EL MUNDO. Some will speak well of it, others badly; but everyone will say that we are at the service of no one. Instead, everyone will agree that we usually rather annoy anyone in power and that our principal obsession is to regenerate the democracy and defend the rights of the citizens. No one asked me to write this article. Moreover, I would rather the Olympic Movement prevail over the city where I live, since in this planet of ideas we all inhabit an identical world. But from this independent and unselfish standpoint, I want you to know that Madrid is a sure bet and full of potential to achieve the aims of the IOC.

Actually, the cosmopolitan, multi-cultural and multi-racial Madrid, over-flowing with and welcoming to tourism, open to immigration, the connecting heart of everything, for everyone, has for a long time been Olympic, without knowing it. Only the intimate connection between president Samaranch and his home city can explain how Spain’s capital took a back seat and generously gave way to help Barcelona win the bid for the Games of '92. In 2020, 28 years will have passed since then, more than double the interval between the Los Angeles and Atlanta Games; and Madrid will continue being the only great capital of the developed world that after thirty one Olympiads in the modern era has not yet been a venue for the Games.

Although historical justice is one of the most important values which the IOC must endorse, it is not only to that said justice which I appeal. You already have the thorough report made by the Evaluation Committee. To some extent, president Rogge appeared to foresee its conclusions when, in March, he summarised the extensive interview which he gave to EL MUNDO in an eloquent phrase: "Now you are ready".

I would like to add that this time the tenacity and solvency with which Madrid has been pursuing to be elected as venue for the Games has given it the advantage of having most of the necessary facilities and infrastructure already in place and all "outstanding tasks" already approved. The Evaluation Committee confirmed that the majority of venues for the competitions are finished and range between suitable and spectacular; that the hotel offering is sufficient, sound and affordable; that the transport and communication networks border on perfection; that the Olympic Village proposal is impeccable; that the media will have at their disposal all material comforts and the latest advances in technology; that the Paralympic Games will be hosted in an environment of solidarity in a city which has strived to facilitate disabled access; and that there is not even one objection to the new Anti-doping Law.

"But there is more still. Something that a visitor can only capture partially: the spirit of the people"

But there is more still. Something that a visitor can only capture partially: the spirit of the people. That is why I want to ask you to dedicate two minutes to the video of the Sports Nightwhich was organised by the newspaper Marca –also part of our group– on the 22nd June for its 75th anniversary with the enthusiastic participation of Mayoress Ana Botella. More than 50,000 inhabitants of Madrid ran, jumped, did gymnastics and played volleyball and table tennis around the Puerta del Sol square, the Cibeles Fountain, the Retiro Park and other well-known sights around the city. Look carefully at the faces because the common denominator was the support for the Madrid 2020 candidacy, led not by a politician –for once politicians are giving their full support without demanding the leadership in return– but rather by a sportsman, a member of the Olympic family, a competent, accessible and modest worker like Alejandro Blanco.

The Sports Night was a small preview of the attitude that Madrid will adopt if it is chosen to host the Games. Whilst in other places in the world, the streets served as the scene for demonstrations by angry protestors, in Madrid they became a gigantic multi-disciplinary stadium of Olympic sports lovers. And if it was like that amidst an economic crisis, with high youth unemployment rates, imagine the explosion of enthusiasm that will be seen within the next seven years once we have overcome this period of instability. I’m not going to talk to you regarding the Barcelona Games because my experience could seem biased –it was the golden city of my childhood– and '92 is quite a long time ago now. But I will talk to you about something which happened on the other side of the world. If you want to experience a Games as well organised, exciting, sophisticated and exemplary like Sydney, pass the baton to Madrid this time.

And if you have any doubt, put yourselves in the shoes of the people of Madrid and their leaders who, after having missed out on selection in Singapore by only one vote, presented themselves for candidacy again, despite the logic that after London it would be difficult to choose another European city. And if you still have a doubt, put yourselves in their shoes again when, after having lost to Río in Copenhagen, they returned to present themselves for candidacy again, despite the difficulties of the economic crisis and having lost twice already. And if you remain doubting still, remember the dialogue between Harold Abrahams and his girlfriend Sybil Gordon in 'Chariots of Fire':

- If I can’t win, I won’t run!

- If you don’t run, you can’t win.

Madrid has proved to you once and again that it knows how to take part. Now we will prove that we also know how to win.

http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2013/07/01/madrid/1372663518.html

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True they have bid 3 times in a row now and had high standards but Tokyo has bid twice in a row and scored higher then Madrid and Japan hasn't had a summer games since 1964 whereas Spain had it in 1992. Plus the world knows of Spains financial woes and the bid even said it was be a cheaper, efficient games which is a cop out. Who doesn't like a nice extravaganza?

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Madrid scored higher this time... And Japan hosted the games in Nagano 1998 and tokyo 1964.

And the Winter Games 2018 is in South Korea... Asia 2018-Asia 2020 no way..

And Barcelona hosted in 1992, so Japan has had the longer wait for a Summer Games, coupled with Spain's financial issues its a non-starter to suggest Madrid should host. However it wouldn't shock me if Spain hosts.

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And Barcelona hosted in 1992, so Japan has had the longer wait for a Summer Games, coupled with Spain's financial issues its a non-starter to suggest Madrid should host. However it wouldn't shock me if Spain hosts.

It wouldn't shock me either. But what Madrid does have going for it is very passionate support, which is very clearly shown in this letter. I don't think that people in the other bidding cities share the same excitement for the games that the Spaniards do. However, this letter completely left out the financial woes in Spain. It would have been better if the author brought that up and made a counter-argument to it.

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The 2020 Final Evaluation Report did NOT score the bids, so I don't know where some people are getting the notion that Madrid scored higher. Besides, it's not like the "highest" scored bid winds up winning most of the time anyway.

Nagano was a Winter Games, so neither here nor there. PyeongChang also hosting 2018 has no real bearing. Lets not forget that PyeongChang almost won 2010 even though Beijing was gonna host 2008. And Beijing lost 2000 by just a mere 2 votes, despite Nagano being scheduled for 1998. So the IOC is not entirely adverse to it. Back-to-back Asian Games are bound to happen sooner rather than later. And 2018-2020 could very well be it.

IMHO, I find that Spain is focusing on the wrong set of Games. They should start trying to bid for a Winter Games, where they could make a much stronger & more compelling argument than trying to stubbornly grasp another Summer Olympics again so soon, while other more compelling European countries have been waiting for decades. Paris tried three times too, but even they failed at those attempts.

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Were you even alive back in 1964 to say that. Aren't you the one who said in the 'USA 2024' thread, when bombastically embellishing on San Diego, that you "really don't remember Barcelona", so how can you remember another 28 years into the past! :blink:

"We've been to" London, too, TWICE before, as a matter of fact. But that didn't stop London from hosting a very good (Third) Games last summer. I think Tokyo has that same kind of potential, being another mega, global city on an island nation, but with a total cultural (& interesting) contrast. Tokyo would truly be an amazing Games IMHO, regardless of some of the downers on here that keep harping that a Tokyo Games would be "boring".

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Were you even alive back in 1964 to say that. Aren't you the one who said in the 'USA 2024' thread, when bombastically embellishing on San Diego, that you "really don't remember Barcelona", so how can you remember another 28 years into the past! :blink:

"We've been to" London, too, TWICE before, as a matter of fact. But that didn't stop London from hosting a very good (Third) Games last summer. I think Tokyo has that same kind of potential, being another mega, global city on an island nation, but with a total cultural (& interesting) contrast. Tokyo would truly be an amazing Games IMHO, regardless of some of the downers on here that keep harping that a Tokyo Games would be "boring".

+1

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In 2020, 28 years will have passed since then, more than double the interval between the Los Angeles and Atlanta Games; and Madrid will continue being the only great capital of the developed world that after thirty one Olympiads in the modern era has not yet been a venue for the Games.

I don't know if this is a sense of entitlement or selective amnesia. London waited almost 60 years to have another Olympic Games, the back Games in Los Angeles waited 62 years. But they use Atlanta argument as in favor. Please, when Spain will have almost the 70% of the rights in TV and sponsors maybe can make a reclaim here.

Madrid scored higher this time... And Japan hosted the games in Nagano 1998 and tokyo 1964.

And the Winter Games 2018 is in South Korea... Asia 2018-Asia 2020 no way..

Give us the score, because in the final report didn't announce scores.

Second, Barcelona had the SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES in 1992, while Tokyo in 1964. Don't compare Winter Olympics with summer Games. So, with this argument, Istanbul deserves the Games because it didn't make it and also is a big city with a proper population a big influence.

Asia 2018-Asia 2020 no way - Give a proper reason of that argument. Right now, the economic power is in Asia with a growing middle class. Maybe the real question will be - Why again Spain? They had an Olympic Games before and recently -Only one generation and half apart- and we have still memories of Barcelona as a united Spain project. And finally like FYI said before they came close in 2010 to have back to back Asia.

Sorry Spain, but you're not the center of the world. -Apologies for that phrase, but each time with Madrid 2020 arguments sounds like this example: Asia 2018-Asia 2020 no way-

Were you even alive back in 1964 to say that. Aren't you the one who said in the 'USA 2024' thread, when bombastically embellishing on San Diego, that you "really don't remember Barcelona", so how can you remember another 28 years into the past! :blink:

"We've been to" London, too, TWICE before, as a matter of fact. But that didn't stop London from hosting a very good (Third) Games last summer. I think Tokyo has that same kind of potential, being another mega, global city on an island nation, but with a total cultural (& interesting) contrast. Tokyo would truly be an amazing Games IMHO, regardless of some of the downers on here that keep harping that a Tokyo Games would be "boring".

+2

At least Paul was alive in 1964, this argument is close to nill... I understand preference but not as a fact.

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Madrid scored higher this time... And Japan hosted the games in Nagano 1998 and tokyo 1964.

And the Winter Games 2018 is in South Korea... Asia 2018-Asia 2020 no way..

Hmmmm, and Spain hosted the Summer Games the same year that France hosted the Winter Games, and then Norway hosted Winter Games in 1994. The last time that I checked, all three of those countries were in Europe. So 2018 & 2020 both being in Asia would not be an unprecedented development.

Japan or Turkey will get 2020. Spain, you had your games already.... more time needs to pass for a smallish country to host summer games again so soon.

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Were you even alive back in 1964 to say that. Aren't you the one who said in the 'USA 2024' thread, when bombastically embellishing on San Diego, that you "really don't remember Barcelona", so how can you remember another 28 years into the past! :blink:

"We've been to" London, too, TWICE before, as a matter of fact. But that didn't stop London from hosting a very good (Third) Games last summer. I think Tokyo has that same kind of potential, being another mega, global city on an island nation, but with a total cultural (& interesting) contrast. Tokyo would truly be an amazing Games IMHO, regardless of some of the downers on here that keep harping that a Tokyo Games would be "boring".

I meant "the Olympics" have been to Tokyo, first time I was there was like 2004 not 64. :lol: I'd just rather see another world capitol host before another repeater. I wasn't really into the Olympics till after Barcelona, mostly I've just read about those past games.

I also regret "we" had to go to London again, nobody I know in the states raves about those games.....sorry but it's true. :(

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This is such a bizarre Olympic bid- it reminds me of a petulant teenager.

A few people were saying that about Rio four years ago. Not that I think their fortunes will be the same.

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A few people were saying that about Rio four years ago. Not that I think their fortunes will be the same.

I could have probably stomached the Brazilian melodrama - basically because it had a substantial weight behind it - an entire continent that has never hosted the Olympics. Madrid's equivalent is that its the self proclaimed "greatest European capital city never to have hosted the Olympics"... which is completely non factual and subjective, when you consider cities like Budapest, Vienna or Copenhagen... or the fact that Paris last hosted so long ago that it may as well have never hosted at all.

And then for many members of this forum who support Madrid, on various occasions, seek to undermine Tokyo's bid by pointing out 1964 and 1998, brazenly ignoring the elephant in the room - Barcelona.

At this point I'd be disappointed - but by no means upset or angry - if Istanbul loses 2020 to Tokyo. I think it would be fair game. However, I'll be quite angry, and even potentially disinterested indefinitely in the 2020 Olympics if it goes to Madrid... which I feel in the wake of the Turkish drama it might by some bizarre voting pattern that could work against both Istanbul and Tokyo. Even though Barcelona 1992 was one of the greatest events in Olympic history (up there with Sydney 2000 and London 2012) I think it was won under dubious circumstances and Madrid 2020 would be no different.

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I meant "the Olympics" have been to Tokyo, first time I was there was like 2004 not 64. :lol: I'd just rather see another world capitol host before another repeater.

I know exactly that's what you meant. I just find it rather silly that you can say that "we've (the Olympics) been to Tokyo" when most of us here weren't even around in 1964 to watch them on television or read about them in the newspapers. But I'd think it's very fair to say, that many of us have very good recollection of the Spanish Summer Olympic Games of 1992. So I'd like to see something very culturally different to that for 2020.

And IDK if I'd categorize Madrid as a "world capital". A large, European capital, yes. But a world one is a bit of a stretch. I'd say that's even a stretch for the likes of Rome & Berlin, too.

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I could have probably stomached the Brazilian melodrama - basically because it had a substantial weight behind it - an entire continent that has never hosted the Olympics. Madrid's equivalent is that its the self proclaimed "greatest European capital city never to have hosted the Olympics"... which is completely non factual and subjective, when you consider cities like Budapest, Vienna or Copenhagen... or the fact that Paris last hosted so long ago that it may as well have never hosted at all.

Yeah, what a compelling argument that is, isn't it. That, along with their 'jumpstart our sluggish economy with our austerity Games plan', makes for such a great story, doesn't it.

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I know exactly that's what you meant. I just find it rather silly that you can say that "we've (the Olympics) been to Tokyo" when most of us here weren't even around in 1964 to watch them on television or read about them in the newspapers. But I'd think it's very fair to say, that many of us have very good recollection of the Spanish Summer Olympic Games of 1992. So I'd like to see something very culturally different to that for 2020.

And IDK if I'd categorize Madrid as a "world capital". A large, European capital, yes. But a world one is a bit of a stretch. I'd say that's even a stretch for the likes of Rome & Berlin, too.

What? Sorry just been reading some posts here. It is a large capital city. Maybe not a world capital but very close. And sorry but Rome (in my eyes) is definitely a world capital. Rome, London, NYC maybe Tokyo. I'm sure there are more but I do think Rome is definitely in the top 4.

I understand his point that Tokyo has had the Olympics while Madrid hasn't. I'm sure Madrid and Spain has more to show since the Barcelona Olympics but Tokyo has proven on numerous occasions that they are better technically score and in a better financial state than Madrid.

It is a shame for Madrid especially bidding three times in a row but a country bidding in 2005 for 2012 only 13 years after Barcelona? That was a silly idea. Only the USA can get away with having two summer games within two decades. They'd have to wait at least til the late 2030's til they should bid once more.

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What? Sorry just been reading some posts here. It is a large capital city. Maybe not a world capital but very close.

Isn't that pretty much what I said. :blink:

And sorry but Rome (in my eyes) is definitely a world capital. Rome, London, NYC maybe Tokyo. I'm sure there are more but I do think Rome is definitely in the top 4.

Nope, sorry. Replace Rome there with Paris, which is definitely in the top four of global cities.

.

It is a shame for Madrid especially bidding three times in a row but a country bidding in 2005 for 2012 only 13 years after Barcelona? That was a silly idea. Only the USA can get away with having two summer games within two decades.

Paris bid three times, too, & lost. I think that's even more of a shame.

I'm sure Madrid and Spain has more to show since the Barcelona Olympics but Tokyo has proven on numerous occasions that they are better technically score and in a better financial state than Madrid.

They'd have to wait at least til the late 2030's til they should bid once more.

This I agree with.

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What? Sorry just been reading some posts here. It is a large capital city. Maybe not a world capital but very close. And sorry but Rome (in my eyes) is definitely a world capital. Rome, London, NYC maybe Tokyo. I'm sure there are more but I do think Rome is definitely in the top 4.

i'm lukewarm on rome. London, Paris, NYC, Washington, HK, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, ???????????? Hollywood?

rome, berlin, madrid, i don't know. some nice art at least. all more important than rio.

i mean, if rio sank into a sea of cachaca would anyone really miss it? we'd lose a nice big statue for sure. oh, the supermodels. i guess we'd miss the supermodels.

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