POSTED: September 30th 2009

Rio hits back at Madrid as tempers flare on last lap of bid race

KEIR RADNEDGE in COPENHAGEN / Sports Features Communications

Sep 30: Nerves have begun to fray as the tension builds up less than two days before the moment of triumph or tears for Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

At 6.30pm local time Friday IOC president Jacques Rogge will announce how the final vote among the International Olympic Committee has fallen in the pursuit to host the 2016 summer Games.

Thus far the four contenders had remained largely focused – in public, at least, if not in private – on the strength of their own proposals. Now, suddenly, battle has been joined out in the open with a senior Madrid backer denouncing Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilians responding with a complaint to the IOC ethics committee.

This is the second time Madrid has been accused of stepping beyond the rules after the row over an apparent endorsement on an IOC member’s website.

Provocation for Rio this time came from remarks by Spanish Olympic Committee vice-president Jose Maria Odriozola. He was reported by EFE, the Spanish news agency, as openly describing Rio as “the worst bid."

Marketing appeal

Odriozola, who is also president of the Spanish athletics federation, said Rio's appeal depended heavily on slick marketing and sentimentality and that security – i.e. crime – remained an issue. He added: “At this point, the IOC is not going to risk it and take the Games to a site where it doesn't have total confidence that it can be done well."

Madrid has been seeking to convince voters that it, and not the Brazilian city, would best represent reward the so-called “Latin option” even though this would mean  second succesive Games in Europe, after London 2012.

Rio reacted at speed. A spokesman said: “This gentleman is clearly out of step with the report of the IOC's own evaluation commission.  His comments are totally unacceptable and Rio 2016 has now lodged a formal complaint to the IOC ethics commission."

In fact, while the commission's report had referred to the local security issue in Rio it had been more exercised by the proximity of the city's role in the hosting of the 2014 World Cup - a factor which the Brazilian consider a strength.

This was not the first clash between the two cities. Last May Rio accused Madrid of trying to spy on their planning by infiltrating into media briefings a representative masquerading as a journalist.

Keywords · 2016 Olympics · IOC · Rogge · Madrid · Rio de Janeiro · Odriozola

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