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Olympics: Spanish stars line up to back Madrid bid

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A host of Spain's biggest sports stars have lent their weight to Madrid's bid to stage the 2020 Olympics with the final decision in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

Tokyo and Istanbul stand in the way of a first ever Olympiad in the Spanish capital and with fears over the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant and the fall-out from the ongoing Syrian civil war overshadowing their bids respectively, Madrid has gained significant ground in recent months.

A star-studded group of athletes and administrators including Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez will form part of Madrid's lobbying team in the all-important final few days before the International Olympic Committee members case their vote on Saturday.

And even those who can't be in attendance have joined in to lend their weight to Madrid's third consecutive bid for the Games.

"As sportsmen and Spaniards we support the bid," said Vicente del Bosque, manager of the world champion Spanish football team.

"It would be an enormous boost, not just to the capital but to the whole country."

Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez also joined teammate Lionel Messi, who backed the Madrid bid on his arrival back in his homeland for Argentina's World Cup qualifiers earlier this week, by saying "it would be great news for all of us."

The Madrid bid team will though be without one of their most vocal supporters in Buenos Aires as 12-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal will instead be playing in the US Open semi-finals on Saturday night.

Nadal continued his sensational form by destroying compatriot Tommy Robredo for the loss of just four games on Wednesday night and was quick to reaffirm his support for the bid.

"Luckily I am here (in New York), but I would have loved to be there supporting such a wonderful cause.

"It would be a very positive boost for our country.

"Madrid has been fighting many years for this and if there is a city that after all the effort it has made and continues to make to win the chance to host an Olympics, it is ours."

kca/nr

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130905/olympics-spanish-stars-line-back-madrid-bid