Madrid 2016 promises clean, problem-free Olympics
BEIJING (AP) Clean air, blue skies and none of the public disruptions that have accompanied the Beijing Games. That's what Madrid's 2016 Olympics bid is ready to promise.
Madrid's push to host the Olympics came to the Chinese capital Sunday, accompanied by videos pushing a candidature organizers say will be the greenest and greatest in history.
A new video with the catchline of "Hola Everyone" provides the multicultural face to a bid from a country that's still adapting to a large influx of immigrants and its own regional differences, which have included a recent spate of bombings by ETA.
With protests over Tibet and the thick Beijing haze stealing headlines at these Olympics, Madrid has always considered itself a harmonious choice for 2016.
"It's certainly not a reaction to Beijing," Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. told The Associated Press of Madrid's latest advertisement. "The thrust of this campaign was set months ago and is continuing forward. There's no special plan to change that."
Madrid, a city of more than 5 million people, promises sustainable transport and technology and, above all, sunny skies come August. It is up against Chicago, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Games.
The Spanish capital's air quality has surpassed acceptable European standards since 2000, according to environmental group Ecologists in Action. The mayor's office has barred older model cars from the city center to help bring levels down.
"In August of 2016, when the games will be celebrated in Madrid, we won't need to adopt special measures of any type to guarantee a transportation system, adequate temperature for the sports competitions; we now have levels of pollution that are way below very demanding European standards," Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said.
Barcelona mayor Jordi Hereu was present to pledge his city's support. Barcelona, which staged the 1992 Olympics and would host football matches in 2016, is the capital of Catalonia, a wealthy and powerful region fiercely proud of its language and culture that has tried to field its own football team in international competitions.
"It shows that unity exists across the political spectrum," Ruiz-Gallardon said of Hereu's support. "Sport in Spain unites."
ETA - considered a terrorist group by Spain, the European Union and the U.S. - has waged a violent armed campaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and western France since 1968. It is blamed for killing more than 820 people, including security force members, politicians and civilians.
Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Rio de Janeiro was the choice pick to host in 2016 since the word "terrorism" doesn't exist in Brazil.
"We're not here to watch what our competitors do. We're here to run our own race," Ruiz-Gallardon said in response.
There were no Basques on the stage Sunday, although Ruiz-Gallardon said that was because no Olympic competitions would be held in any Basque cities. Outside of the capital, Valencia would host the sailing, while football would be played in Merida, Cordoba, Malaga and on the island of Mallorca.
Instead of focusing solely on its European qualities, Madrid is looking to its "Hispanic-Latin" tie to South America to counter the idea that Europe cannot hold the games immediately after London does in 2012. Those South American votes could prove crucial when the IOC votes at Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 2009.
"After these Chinese Olympics and the Anglo-Saxon ones to be held in London, the best way to internationalize the movement would be to hold a Latin games in Madrid," Ruiz-Gallardon said.
Not wanting to neglect the European side, sports secretary Jaime Lissavetzky added: "We're like Latinos, but we work with a Swiss touch."
Silva and U.S. President George W. Bush both attended Beijing's opening ceremony, and Silva confirmed that he'd like to travel to Copenhagen to push Rio's candidacy before the IOC vote. Former British Prime Minster Tony Blair successfully lobbied for London's 2012 bid in Singapore in 2005, and former Russian President Vladimir Putin was instrumental in securing Sochi's victory for the 2014 Winter Games in Guatemala last year.
Ruiz-Gallardon said Madrid's bid would reply by calling on the highest position in the country for the occasion, with Spain's King Juan Carlos expected to be on hand at the vote.