Madrid desolate as Olympic bid fails again
A young man holding a Spanish flag at the Puerta de Alcala in Madrid reacts after after the city was eliminated as a host for the 2020 Olympic Games, on September 7, 2013. Madrid was dealing with the hangover from a fourth failed attempt at winning the Olympic Games as Tokyo was chosen as the host for the 2020 Games in Buenos Aires.
Enthusiasm built up throughout the day in Madrid on Saturday as thousands of people descended on the city's gate at Puerta de Alcala, but the expectation was suddenly washed away in the evening rain as Madrid was surprisingly eliminated in the first round after a second vote was needed to separate its bid from Istanbul.
It was the third consecutive time the Spanish capital had bid for the Games after also failing in its attempt for the 1972 Games and with the likes of Paris, Berlin and Rome set to be in the running when the 2024 bid process gets underway there are serious questions as to whether a country mired in economic crisis can continue to pour millions into candidacies with no guaranteed return.
"It has been a huge blow to not win the 2020 Games," bid president Alejandro Blanco admitted afterwards.
"Right now is precisely the moment for us to take a break. We need to sit down and think about where we want to go."
Despite their spirited plea that Madrid did have the ability to host an austerity Games based on the fact the vast majority of its proposed venues are already in place, in a time of economic and political uncertainty the Tokyo bid successfully transmitted its claim to be the most reliable bid to the 96 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members who were eligible to vote.
"The IOC preferred excess to austerity, although this doesn't excuse the failure of the Spanish lobby," said sports daily Marca in its editorial on Sunday.
Yet, there were also other areas where Madrid's candidacy was found wanting, particularly on the issue of doping.
After a disjointed presentation before the IOC members on Saturday afternoon which was also unfortunately disrupted by a power outage caused by a severe storm in the Argentine capital, there were just two questions for the bid team to respond to.
However, instead of enquiring about Madrid's infrastructure or investment, the questions centred on what the country was doing to clean up its tarnished image in the light of the Operation Puerto scandal.
After a four-month long court case earlier this year, blood bags seized from the disgraced doctor Eufemiano Fuentes were ordered to be destroyed rather than released and those involved in the doping ring named.
"Those damned blood bags," said the editor of Madrid sports daily AS Alfredo Relano in his column on Sunday.
"The questions from the Canadian Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the young Englishman Adam Pengilly, sunk Madrid's bid and rubbed salt into our already seething wounds."
Since the end of the Puerto case in May, there has already been a change in the country's doping laws enforcing stricter sanctions both on the dopers and those who administer the products.
However, as Relano points out, it will be a long time before Spain recovers the trust of the outside world on the topic.
"Spanish sport needs to go through a long period in which it shows exemplary conduct in order to rid itself of this image, but for now that image remains."
An image that contributed to another sinking of Madrid's Olympic dream.