Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida quickly denied that the Spanish capital has joined the 2036 Olympic bid race after reports emerged Wednesday that his Vice Mayor Begoña Villacís announced that such a campaign was underway. Representing two opposing parties, the differing viewpoints mark erosion in the political coalition.
Almeda subsequently met with Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) President Alejandro Blanco without Villacis’ knowledge to control the message, but ultimately announce a partnership towards a possible future bid.
“The City Council has not made the decision to formally present the candidacy for the Olympic Games in 2036,” the mayor said in a statement.
“We have to be very cautious. There have been three candidatures (2012, 2016 and 2020) in which we have not obtained the seat and it is essential that we have a minimum guarantee of success and that only part of the unity of the institutions and the complicity with the people of Madrid.“
The mayor admitted the meeting with Blanco was “within the framework of the work that both have been carrying out for months to one day turn Madrid into an Olympic venue.”
This indicates that the door is open for Madrid to participate in informal discussions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as part of the new ‘continuous dialogue’ phase that allows a jurisdiction to express hosting interest, and in effect, enter the race. The IOC has no set schedule for electing a host city and can choose a preferred candidate for election at any time. In July Brisbane was elected to host the 2032 Games after the Australian city emerged as the preferred candidate following months of behind-closed-doors discussions with the IOC.
But Almeida said discussions of this nature are premature and that “a candidacy cannot be announced without the rest of the municipal groups knowing about it, without contacting the Government of Spain or the Community of Madrid.”
Villacís sees an opportunity, however, claiming “Madrid wants to be the Olympic venue.”
“This is the perfect opportunity for political parties to unite for something great for Spain and Madrid,” she said.
Spain has suffered five straight Summer Olympic bid defeats with Seville failing in 2004 and 2008 and Madrid stumbling three more times. Madrid last placed third to Istanbul and Tokyo when the latter was elected to host the 2020 Games.
A 2030 Winter Games bid from the Pyrenees and Barcelona in Spain is currently underway and is facing local opposition and struggling with political posturing from the joint jurisdictions. Both bids can run simultaneously as the winter decision will likely precede the Summer Games choice.
There are several cities already discussing 2036 bids including projects from Germany, India, Indonesia, Hungary, Qatar, Russia and North and South Korea – many that were involved in the dialogue for 2032 and are expected to remain in the running for future Games.
Paris will host the Olympics in 2024 followed by Los Angeles in 2028.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.