IOC "most impressed" with Madrid bid for 2016 Olympics

El Moutawakel Madrid  - Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympics made a strong, positive impression on the evaluating commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), commission head Nawal El Moutawakel said Friday.

"We have been most impressed to find what the city of Madrid could offer to the Olympic movement," El Moutawakel said at a press conference on the final day of a five-day visit to the Spanish capital.

"Madrid is ready to organize the Games," said the former Moroccan athlete, before dampening local hopes. "Just like the other three cities."

In its effort to host the 2016 Olympics, Madrid is competing with Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Chicago. The choice is set to be made in Copenhagen on October 2.

El Moutawakel, who is also Morocco's sports minister, went through the instances that impressed her the most during the visit.

"Lunch with the king and the queen and the royal family, going to Bernabeu Real Madrid (stadium), even though I am sorry for them that they lost 2-6, but the stadium for us is an iconic stadium," she said.

"(Going) to the Magic Box (tennis stadium). What else? Meeting (tennis world number one Rafael) Nadal and meeting (football star) Raul, and seeing with Juan Antonio Samaranch, our honorary president, was something fantastic," she added. "And I can say that the weather played a good role also."

"The list is too long," Gilbert Felli, the IOC's Olympic Games Executive Director, added beside her.

El Moutawakel ruled out the possibility of applying any form of rotation between regions or continents, which is one of Rio's arguments to pull ahead of its rivals.

"This rotation system is not something that is discussed within the IOC at this moment. There is no rotation system," she said.

After expressing their delight for Friday lunch at the residence of the king and queen of Spain and defining as a "pleasure" the meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Monday, the evaluating commission praised Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon.

El Moutawakel acknowledged "the strong commitment of the city of Madrid" with the Games.

The facilities that the IOC commission visited were described as "magnificent," and the fact that over 70 per cent of them are already in use or ready for use was described as "added value for the bid."

"We didn't have any spare time, because all our time was dedicated to work, work and work," the Moroccan said with a smile.

"We were treated like heads of state," she admitted. "But let me tell you that our report will be based on a technical assessment."

El Moutawakel refused to compare the four candidates for the 2016 Olympics. She also declined to compare Madrid's current bid to its 2012 bid, which lost to London.

"We are not here to compare between cities," she stressed. "The positive points in Madrid are numerous, but I cannot list them here."

El Moutawakel noted that the evaluating commission is set to meet in Lausanne within two weeks and to draft a report by September 2.

"We decided not to compare between 2012 and 2016, we are here for the 2016 bid," she said.

Criticism from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), who asked the Spanish government Friday - in an interview with German Press Agency dpa - to "quickly change" a projected law that restricts anti-doping testing, was also discussed with bid officials.

"If you hold Olympic Games you can't have a law that says you can't do 24 hours tests, also for other international events. You don't make it a law," WADA boss David Howman stressed.

El Moutawakel took note of the issue.

"We have discussed this theme this morning," she said. "And we have been given all kinds of reassurances and guarantees. We have also been given all kinds of documents regarding the project of law that has been adopted in Spain by the Spanish government."

"All this will be further studied by the WADA and by the IOC," she said. "I understand your minister has gone today to Montreal for an urgent meeting." (dpa)