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Olympics: Madrid 2020 bid better than previous efforts - IOC

Members of the IOC walk near the Las Ventas bullring in Madrid March 18, 2013. REUTERS/Javier Barbancho
Members of the IOC walk near the Las Ventas bullring in Madrid March 18, 2013. REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games is an improvement on their failed efforts to secure the 2012 and 2016 editions which could be "third time lucky" for the Spanish capital, the head of the evaluation commission said on Thursday.

Madrid, which is competing with Istanbul and Tokyo for the 2020 Games, has been presenting its candidacy to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) commission, headed by IOC vice president Craig Reedie, this week.

Reedie told a news conference concluding the four-day visit that the commission had been "greatly impressed" by the presentation.

"I think what happens in every bidding context is that the cities just get better and better and better," he said.

"People have seen the experience of Games in different parts of the world and I don't think there is any doubt that this candidature has learned from that.

"They have taken the 2016 concept as a base and it is a better concept now than it was then. Who knows maybe it'll be third time lucky?"

Each city delivered their candidature files to the IOC in January and on-site inspections by an evaluation commission began in Tokyo this month.

Istanbul will host the commission from March 24-27 before it publishes a technical assessment at the beginning of July.

GAMES LEGACY

Sebastian Coe, the twice Olympic 1,500 meters champion and chairman of the London 2012 organizing committee, said this month the three cities' ability to provide a convincing reason why they want to stage the Games and not just prove that they can would be the key to winning.

Mapping out an attractive "Games legacy" would be crucial to gaining the backing of IOC members at a vote in Buenos Aires in September, he told a forum in Madrid.

Reedie's comments on Thursday were echoed by Gilbert Felli, the IOC's Olympic Games executive director.

"The cities always learn from the process of candidacies," he told the news conference.

"We have seen that with the quality of what has been presented to us here. So yes it's an improvement with the process of the candidacy of Madrid."

With the economy struggling and unemployment at record levels, many Spaniards are worried about the cost of hosting an Olympics and the issue dominated questions at the news conference.

"We have had a very clear statement from the bid committee," Reedie said. "They believe the Spanish economy has suffered a very difficult time but that it has stabilized and it will improve.

"I have to tell you if I could predict the future movement of world economies I would not be sitting here. We are grateful for their honesty and openness."

(Editing by John Mehaffey)

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