Olympics can be done on 'reasonable budget'

Madrid hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games can demonstrate to the world they can be done effectively on a reasonable budget, the bid's international chief executive Theresa Zabell told AFP.

The 48-year-old - a two-time Olympic gold yachting medallist with the first title coming in Barcelona in 1992 - said it was imperative that the Games did not get more and more expensive and therefore out of reach of a lot of cities who might wish to host them.

Her message will find a sympathetic audience among several of the candidates bidding to succeed International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, when he steps down in Buenos Aires on September 10.

Thomas Bach, the man seen as the front runner to replace Rogge, said something along those lines when he launched his campaign earlier this year in that organising the Games should be as attractive and feasible for as many cities and countries as possible.

Zabell, born in England but who moved with her parents to Spain within a year of her birth, said a Madrid victory in the vote by the 100+ IOC members in Buenos Aires on September 7 would launch a new model for a Games.

"We cannot let the Games get more and more expensive every time," said Zabell, who also won gold in the 1996 Olympics.

"We can demonstrate and show them that a Games can be put on on a reasonable budget.

"It's about a whole new model."

Zabell, who was also a world champion five times, said people were astonished when they visited Madrid that the woeful economic state of Spain was not reflected on the streets.

"I think so much of the talk about Spain in the last few years has got people thinking Spain and the state of the economy," she said.

"But then they come here and they turn round and say 'this is a recession?'. For everything is working, there are basic things like flowers planted in the avenues, the buses are new, the metro is working," she added.

Zabell, who admits the endless travelling and campaigning has had an impact on her quality time with her husband and children, says this is the sort of transformation that the IOC Evaluation Commission underwent on their visit.

"They came with one mindset and left with a superior opinion," said Zabell, who moved from Malaga to Madrid 15 years ago.

"They came not knowing what a great city Madrid is and how many venues have already been built."

This was certainly reflected in the Commission's report published last Tuesday which was extremely positive over their bid and most importantly said they were confident that the modest budget of 2.37 billion euros ($3.10 billion, �2.01 billion) for fulfilling the remaining building work is feasible.

Zabell, who says that her Olympic exploits are a bonus when chatting to IOC members a lot of whom are fellow medallists like her, said that the report had been a huge morale boost.

"We are really happy, it was a great report and very positive about the bid and Madrid," she said.

"We are in perfect health, there are no economic problems surrounding the bid and we can be a great partner for the Olympic Movement.

"We don't have to think about building bridges, roads and other infrastructure projects because they are already in place.

"There are only a few venues to be built and the cost is peanuts."

Zabell, who says the major difference to her days of Olympic competition is that with this race you cannot compare oneself and one's rivals over world championships and European championships because this is just a one off contest, dismissed the fact that for the losers of this Olympic competition there are no minor medals.

"When I competed it was always with only the gold medal in mind."

Zabell and her fellow bid team along with those of Istanbul and Tokyo, the only one of the three to have previously hosted the Games in 1964, will next get to put their messages across in a presentation on Wednesday to all IOC members in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (centre) takes part in a welcome ceremony for the International Olympics Committee's evaluation commission in Madrid on March 18, 2013. Madrid hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games can demonstrate to the world they can be done effectively on a reasonable budget, the bid's international chief executive Theresa Zabell told AFP.

Theresa Zabell (left) and Begona Via Dufresne cross the finish line after winning the gold medal in the Olympic 470 class yachting in Savannah August 1, 1996. Madrid hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games can demonstrate to the world they can be done effectively on a reasonable budget, the bid's international chief executive Zabell told AFP.

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