POSTED: December 29th 2008

Madrid says time is right

Mercedes Coghen spreads the message / Image: Madrid 2016
Mercedes Coghen spreads the message / Image: Madrid 2016

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

MADRID: Mercedes Coghen, chief executive of Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, believes that the city's new year celebrations will send out their own message of hope.

In October the IOC will decide between the Spanish capital and rival bids from Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. The vote will fall in Copenhagen and Coghen hopes the IOC will ring in a new host just as the clock above Madrid's regional government building in Puerta del Sol rings in a new year.

She says: "It is the Madrid tradition that everyone eats one grape for each of the 12 chimes of the clock to ensure good luck for the next 12 months. It is a wonderful occasion and one of the many examples of Madrid's rich culture and vibrant street-life. I would of course love 2009 to be lucky for our bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Of course Coghen knows well that hard work and determination are key qualities to harness over the next nine months and she believes these values have also made Madrid stand out already as "the safest bid."

She adds: "The city infrastructure is already in place with a new road traffic tunnel to cut congestion, a world-class airport and exceptional public transport. With 70 per cent of the sporting venues either already built or being developed we are well on the way to delivering a Games that is financially secure and has the backing of 93 per cent of the Spanish people."

Event experience

Coghen believes that in the challenge economic climate, experience in event hosting will be an ever more important factor and, in her own new year message, she points to Madrid having hosted more than 100 international events in the past decade.

"The year ahead will also be fun," she says. "We will be taking our message to major IOC events in the United States, Africa and even as far as New Zealand to show our friends around the world that Madrid is a welcoming, exciting and safe city with thousands of restaurants, bars, museums, galleries and open spaces.

"But we want a Madrid Games to be more that a wonderful sporting and cultural event; we want the Olympic ideals to change lives for the better. That is why we want the legacy to be people of all ages living the Olympic values far beyond 2016."

Legacy factors include the prospect of an environmentally friendly Games assisting the development of an altogether greener city.

Coghen concludes: "I hope the traditional Madrid grapes will bring a little luck to our bid but ultimately the decision made in 2009 will reward the best city.  I believe that is Madrid."

Keywords · Madrid · 2016 · Olympic Games · Mercedes Coghen

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