December 23, 2005

Madrid anxious not to dwell on Olympic vote mix-up

By Simon Baskett

MADRID (Reuters) - Madrid responded to reports that an
error in the voting procedure to decide on the host city for
the 2012 Olympics could have deprived them of holding the Games
with a mixture of resignation and sportsmanship.

"That game has been played and is now over," Madrid mayor
Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said in a statement on Friday.

"We accepted the rules of the vote and, of course, we
accept the IOC's decision in Singapore. We don't want to look

A report by the BBC says that an International Olympic
Committee (IOC) member mistakenly voted for Paris instead of
Madrid in the third round of voting in Singapore on July 6,
giving the French capital 33 votes compared to Madrid's 31.

A tie would have prompted a vote-off between the two cities
with Madrid the favorite to win through and face London in the
final round.

London then beat Paris 54-50 in the decisive vote, although
it is widely believed that Madrid would have been a bigger
threat to them as the votes for Paris would have moved across
to their bid.

Representatives of the Madrid bid said that they had been
aware of an apparent error by Greek delegate Lambis Nikolaou on
the day of the vote but that their requests for a re-vote had
been rejected.

Alejandro Blanco, head of the Spanish Olympic Committee
(COE), lamented the fact that the outcome of the bid might have
hinged on a mistake by one of the voting members.

"Talking about this now is very difficult because we are
dealing with a hypothesis and we can't change what actually
happened," he told Radio Marca.

"In any case for me it is deplorable that a voting
procedure of such importance in which so many interests and so
many emotions are at stake depended on the behavior of someone
who didn't even have their mind on the job."


Blanco said that the confirmation of the mix-up only served
to strengthen the belief of the organisers of the Madrid bid
that the Spanish capital had a very real chance of winning the
race to hold the 2012 Games.

"This confirms that Madrid had very great possibilities of
winning the vote in Singapore and that without a doubt it was
the best bid," he told Spanish news agency Europa Press.

"It had more completed installations and more popular and
institutional support than any other bid.

"The important thing, though, is that this sort of thing
doesn't happen again in the future."

Mayor Ruiz-Gallardon said the mix-up had only made the city
more determined to succeed in a possible future bid.

"If this incident tells us something it is that the Madrid
bid was a splendid one," he said.

"I'm convinced that our best course of action is to do what
we have to do to build the future and make sure that no one
makes a mistake in the next vote and that even if they do it
won't stop Madrid from winning."