Samaranch on Madrid Olympic Bid: “We Cannot Afford Not To Continue”

Skies and umbrellas opened and rain fell on visiting International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission members Tuesday, perhaps appropriately as the Madrid 2020 bid committee set to review the financial details of their Olympic plans amid a depressed and turbulent economic recession in Spain.

But on day two of the critical bid city inspection, Spain’s IOC Executive Board member Juan Antonio Samaranch spun the prevailing rhetoric that his country simply cannot afford to bid and host the Games.

“We invested the money and it would be hugely and vastly irresponsible to walk out now and not wait there and try to get the financial, economic, social returns of all the money that we have already invested,” Samaranch told SportsFeatures.com.

“We cannot afford not to continue.”

In the three bids combined – 2012, 2016 and 2020 – Samaranch estimates that $100 million has been spent.

“We need to see if we can turn this into value, I am talking about billions. Not tens of millions but billions of dollars.”

To be specific, the bid estimates that an Olympics in Madrid will increase Spain’s gross domestic product by $5 billion while creating 83,000 new full-time jobs. The Games would attract 800,000 additional visitors who would likely spend about $800 million. These numbers are achievable with a $2 billion dollar investment, the budget of the Games and a sum guaranteed by all levels of government.

“This sum, which is far below that of London or Rio, means that in these times of uncertainty this is a very safe option for the Olympic movement. Minimum investment; minimum risk,” Samaranch added.

It’s important to note here that budget estimates during the bids for London 2012 and Sochi 2014 were mere fractions of what was actually spent to organize the Games. And while the IOC preaches the value of legacies and spending within reasonable means, the organization does not necessarily select its hosts using those criteria. Recent elected cities – PyeongChang, Sochi, London and Beijing – all proposed mega-projects that involved significant investment. Sochi’s plan resulted in the biggest construction currently underway in Europe.

But despite the ongoing austerity measures in Spain, the public has remained steadfastly behind the bid. New IOC numbers released this week show that 76% of Madrile