POSTED: May 6th 2009

Bid leaders deny Madrid misfire

Real Madrid captain Raul: Singapore supporter /
Real Madrid captain Raul: Singapore supporter /

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

MADRID: Leaders of Madrid’s 2016 Olympic bid have refuted claims that the IOC’s evaluation commission had been snubbed by four senior players from Spanish champions Real Madrid.

Local sources had suggested the International Olympic Committee’s assessment panel had been due a superstar welcome at the club’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

However, on arrival at the iconic stadium which would host the Games football final, the group was to be greeted by president Vicente Boluda, honorary president Alfredo Di Stefano and sports director Pedrag Mijatovic. None of the Madrid’s “captains quartet” – goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defender Michel Salgado, midfielder Guti and forward Raul – was present.

Manuel Cobo, Madrid’s deputy mayor, denied later that the players’ absence – which made major headlines in Spain’s sports newspapers – had been a surprise.

He said: “We have always been grateful for the support Real Madrid has given our bid. Raul was present in Singapore four years ago when we campaigned for 2012 and Iker Casillas attended the welcome reception for the evaluation commission earlier this week. We never announced officially that those particular players would be present.”

The Madrid bid hit image trouble last week when it was discovered that it had sent a spy, masquerading as a journalist from the Spanish news agency Efe, had been accredited to the Rio bid visit.

Madrid is the fourth and last stop on the commission’s round-the-world assessment trip which had previously taken in Chicago, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. The IOC decides on the 2016 hosts in Copenhagen on October 2.

Pleasing progress

Mercedes Coghen, Madrid’s bid leader, reported herself very satisfied with the commission’s progress thus far which included a visit to all the prospective venues.

These included the site of the proposed new Olympic Stadium. Work is already under way since the stadium has been commissioned by Atletico de Madrid which will be moving there, after the Games, from its traditional home in the south-west of the city.

Several of Atletico’s star players, including 2008 Olympic gold medallist Sergio Aguero, were present to meet the evaluation commission during the morning.

Coghen, reviewing the visit thus far, said: “We wanted to be precise with our timings, and we managed that - in fact, with 30 minutes in hand. It all went off well. We noted impressed faces in every venue.”

Coghen’s daughter Monica, 12, became one of the youngest-ever representatives to appear before such an IOC panel when she told the commission of the passion for sport of Madrid’s children and young people.

She was reported later by the newspaper El Mundo as saying she thought the rival bid her mother feared the most was that of Rio – “because the Games usually go from one continent to another.” London, another European city, hosts 2012.

Keywords · Olympic Games · Madrid 2016 · evaluation commission · IOC · Real Madrid · Coghen

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