Madrid's 2020 Olympic bid wins plaudits from IOC inspectors

Madrid, Mar 21 (EFE).- Authorities here expressed optimism on the final day of IOC inspectors' four-day visit to the Spanish capital, saying they were convinced they had showcased a sustainable, compact and inspiring 2020 Olympic bid.

Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco, Madrid Mayor Ana Botella and their teams appeared drained at the end of the sessions Thursday afternoon, but also satisfied that they had done their utmost to highlight the city's merits to the International Olympic Committee's Evaluation Commission.

"Very professional," "a well-prepared candidacy," a "good project" and "a lovely city" were some of the phrases Commission chief Sir Craig Reedie used at a press conference to describe the Spanish capital and its bid to host the 2020 Summer Games.

He made two things clear: that Madrid's third Olympic candidacy is its best so far and that Spain's financial crisis will not be a determining factor in the IOC's decision.

Officials hope their 13 presentations with corresponding question-and-answer sessions and the three tours they hosted of Madrid's sporting facilities - one of venues located in the city's downtown, another of the Olympic Park and a final visit to the Manzanares area - sufficed to win over the members of the IOC panel.

But it won't be clear how impressed they were until a report on their visit is released prior to a July 3-4 meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, between representatives of the three candidate cities - Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo - and the full IOC membership.

The IOC delegates appeared to come away from the visit fully convinced of the popular and institutional backing for Madrid's candidacy.

A poll conducted by the Evaluation Commission found that 76 percent of Madrid residents and 81 percent of Spaniards support the project. Reedie on Thursday mentioned Spaniards' "enthusiasm" for sports, attributing that passion to the global success of its athletes.

The presence of Crown Prince Felipe, honorary president of Madrid's Olympic bid, at a cocktail reception on Sunday, the official dinner on Wednesday and Thursday's closing session, as well as that of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on the first day of the site inspection on Monday, showed the level of institutional support.

Prince Felipe said Thursday the Madrid 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee had passed the IOC's inspection "with flying colors, if not first-class honors," and, using a cycling term, said the city "completed the bonus sprint with a good point total."