Can Madrid's Bid for a Thrifty Olympics Succeed?
Since China poured an estimated $40 billion into Beijing's lavish 2008 coming out party, Olympic bids have generally headed in two distinct directions: cities with established infrastructure proposing more sustainable events that utilize existing facilities, and cities in emerging markets that can afford to spend more extravagantly.
Now Madrid, a finalist to host the 2020 Summer Games along with Istanbul and Tokyo, is formulating a final bid to win an event it hopes, "would help bring 'economic and social recovery' to Spain and boost employment, particularly for young Spaniards facing a 52% jobless rate."
According to Sonne, "The city's [Madrid's] bid committee is marketing the proposal as a shoestring Olympics-a model designed to show how to organize the event on a tight budget. Madrid's initial application says 78% of the sports venues already exist in the city and only about nine structures need to be built."
With Spain's government pushing through a €65 billion austerity program, critics are questioning if leaders should "pour public funds into a risky financial bet."
"This is not the moment to be thinking about this kind of event," says José García Montalvo, an economics professor at Barcelona's Universitat Pompeu Fabra, pointing to a contradiction: "If you claim that most of the infrastructure is already built and you're not going to use a lot of public money, then you're not going to [create] a lot of jobs."