Madrid Olympics Bid Is Workable After 24% Budget Cut, IOC Says

Madrid’s proposal to spend five times less on infrastructure than Rio de Janeiro to host the summer Olympic Games is workable, according to International Olympic Committee executives.

The Spanish capital is grappling with an economic slump as it competes against Tokyo and Istanbul to host the 2020 games. Madrid cut planned capital spending by 24 percent to $1.9 billion for the Olympics since it finished second to Rio in the race to host the 2016 games, according to Bloomberg News calculations.

Madrid invested in a new airport, transport links and sports stadiums before an economic slump began in 2008, IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli said after a visit to the city. Madrid’s bid book says 80 percent of sports arenas needed are in place.

“We believe the numbers proposed are feasible,” Felli told reporters. “The citizens have already paid for a big part of” the infrastructure, Felli added.

Switzerland’s Felli was also among an IOC group that visited Tokyo last month, and that will next travel to Istanbul before submitting a report on the three candidate cities. IOC members will decide which gets the games in a Sept. 7 vote in Buenos Aires.

Madrid is least likely to be chosen at odds of 4-1, according to Dublin-based bookmaker Paddy Power, which rates Tokyo as the 8-13 favorite and Istanbul at 2-1. A successful $1 wager on Madrid would yield a $4 profit.

Spain’s economic woes have worsened since Madrid’s bid four years ago, with the unemployment rate rising to a record 26 percent from 18.5 percent. Public sector debt last year surged 20 percent to 884.4 billion euros ($1.14 trillion) -- 84.1 percent of gross domestic product -- according to the central bank on March 15.

Rio’s successful bid included a plan to spend on $11.1 billion on infrastructure. Madrid can get by on much less, the U.K.’s Craig Reedie, president of the IOC 2020 games evaluation committee, told reporters.

‘We have looked closely at capital costs and we believe them to be attainable,” Reedie said. “The games simply can’t get more expensive every time.”

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