Aug 27 - Organisers behind Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Olympics are confident it will benefit the economy despite new data showing last year's recession was deeper than previously stated. Ivor Bennett reports.
Hosting the 2020 Olympics was always going to be a tough sell for Spain. A multi-million-euro expense against a backdrop of crippling austerity and soaring unemployment. But the job has just got harder. Fresh data shows last year's recession was even deeper than first thought. GDP contracted as much as 1.6 percent and forecasts predict worse is to come. But despite the gloom, bid CEO Victor Sanchez insists hosting the 2020 Games would be money well spent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MADRID 2020 CEO VICTOR SANCHEZ SAYING: "We consider all the amount invested in the games as a long term, medium long term investment that will be recovered in the following years as we can see in the games of London for example." Much of the infrastructure is already in place helping organisers stick to a low-budget bid. The home of football club Real Madrid would be used for the soccer finals. The city's iconic bull ring would host the basketball. And construction's even begun on what would serve as the Olympic stadium, with 28 of a proposed 35 venues already complete. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MADRID 2020 CEO VICTOR SANCHEZ, SAYING: "Our investment budget is one of the most reduced budgets in the history of Olympic and Paralympic games. We are proposing only 1.9 billion US dollar of investment which means it is almost half of the operational budget of the games." But a frugal FORECAST is nothing new. Initial estimates for London 2012 were less than 4 billion dollars. The final cost was nearly four times that - an expense Spain's economy may struggle to meet. With its banks already propped up with European funds, not everyone's convinced the bid is a good idea. Rabobank's Jan Lambregts. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RABOBANK GLOBAL HEAD OF FINANCIAL MARKETS RESEARCH, JAN LAMBREGTS, SAYING: "I think it could be a difficult sell internationally, particularly in the euro zone, to bid for it when of course the country is effectively benefiting from a lot of support measures out there." Economic woes have already forced Rome out of the running. But Madrid's determined not to follow suit. Istanbul and Tokyo are the other cities bidding to host the Games. The winner will be announced at the end of next week.