|Alejandro Blanco - President, Madrid 2020|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 12 July 2013 15:32
Alejandro Blanco Bravo is the President of the Madrid 2020 Bid Committee and the Spanish Olympic Committee.
He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the European Olympic Committees. He also served as President of the Spanish Judo Federation between 1993 and 2005. He was the President of the Confederation of the Spanish Sport Federations. In addition, Alejandro Blanco holds a Degree in Physical Sciences; a seventh-dan judo black belt, and has been awarded the Golden Medal of the Royal Order of Merit in Sport.
On the 8th September 2011, the City Council of Madrid entrusted Alejandro Blanco with the responsibility to lead the Spanish proposal for the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in 2020. He has been President of the Spanish Olympic Committee (SOC) since 2005, member of its Executive Committee since 2001, and Vice-President of such Committee from 2004 to 2005. As leader of the SOC, he has set in motion several initiatives such as the Sportspeople Office, the SOC Ethical Code, the promotion of the values of Olympism as a subject for study in all Spanish schools aimed at students between 11 and 14 years of age, in addition to several campaigns for social integration.
In October 2011, he led the team being awarded the Mediterranean Games 2017 to be held in the town of Tarragona.
By Ismail Uddin
You were recently re-elected president of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE). How does that role help you when it comes to Madrid’s pursuit to secure the 2020 Olympic Games?
I feel very honoured to have been re-elected for a third time as the president of the COE. It brings a sense of tranquillity and stability to the Olympic Committee at both a national and international level. Our committee has been around for a long time and we have the support of virtually all the Olympic and non-Olympic federations. That gives you stability and allows you to take on projects in the short and medium term, and obviously that has beneficial effects for the bid. For the first time the bid is in the hands of the sporting community and a solid, well-established and prestigious Olympic committee. I think that puts us in an even better light with the international Olympic movement, who are our colleagues and our family.
Madrid 2020 enjoys very solid public support. How strong is it at the moment and how has it boosted your bid?
According to the IOC surveys released during the Evaluation Commission’s visit in March, 82 percent of Spanish people support the bid and 76 percent of people in Madrid want the Games to be held in our city. The response from people has been incredible at every public event we’ve organised. But the best piece of data and the one we’re most proud of is that 90 percent of under-35s support Madrid 2020. Youngsters see the Games as a vital opportunity for development and progress in these difficult times.
How can you convince the public that the Spanish economy is ready to meet the expensive challenge of staging the Olympics?
The Games are a great incentive for investing and creating jobs and wealth and getting the economy moving again. The global economy is so unstable that we cannot predict what lies ahead. What will the situation be in 2020? In some cases cities have staged the Games in circumstances that were totally different to when they were awarded them. To my mind, we shouldn’t attach too much importance to the starting point but focus on the finish line instead. And the fact is that Madrid has already built around 80 percent of the necessary infrastructures, including the airport, ring roads and the metro. That’s a solid guarantee of stability. Our investments will be reduced to the minimum. We also have the total backing of central, regional and local government, and we’ll go hand in hand with them all the way. That’s the message we’re getting across to people and we are convinced that’s the message they’re receiving, which is why they’re right behind a project that every Spanish person is part of.
Madrid 2020 has a number of sponsors backing the bid. Did you make a special effort to get local partners to sponsor you? How did you attract them?
We didn’t have to push hard with the sponsors because they think the same as we do. Spain needs the Games more than ever. This is a strategic project involving the whole country, not just Madrid, and we need shared projects that bring us together. Private enterprise is right behind the bid because it sees it as a unique opportunity to breathe new life into the economy. The Games will attract investors, boost trade, generate wealth and promote tourism. They will give Brand Madrid the shot in the arm that it needs. The project does not end in 2020. We have to see it as a long-term project that will create an amazing economic legacy for Spain. We’ve seen that in the UK, which came out of recession in the third quarter on the back of the Games. And that’s just the start of a long journey.
Do you feel local business support could be a key factor in securing the Games for you?
Absolutely. You can’t stage the Games with public money alone. The Games are not the only reason companies in Spain are giving their support. Out of all the international federations in the world Spain stages more elite competitions than most, and you can only do that if you have the support of private enterprise. Whether it’s specific support programmes for athletes, specific programmes for the organisation of events or programmes supporting the Olympic bid, the number of companies involved and the international prestige they possess make the whole set-up a benchmark.
The Evaluation Commission’s report has just been released. Madrid has said they are satisfied with the report’s findings, which regards your infrastructure and transport system as strong points. Do you feel this will give you a major advantage over your rivals?
We are very pleased with the appraisal the Evaluation Commission has given us because it means that we are doing things well and that we’re on the right track. What we can’t do, though, is start thinking about whether we’ve got an advantage over our rivals or not. We have to look forward. We can’t afford to get distracted and start looking around us. We have the greatest respect for the Tokyo and Istanbul bids but we don’t need to look at them to see how we’re doing. All we need to do focus is on ourselves and be secure in the knowledge that we’re doing our very best. The three bids are very strong and we’ll see what happens on 7 September in Buenos Aires. What we can say is that we are ready. There’s no question of that.