Madrid apologises to Rio over 'worst' city slur

1st October 2009, Comments 0 comments

The second in command of Spain's Olympic Committee described the Brazilian city as "the worst of the four candidates" in the race to host the 2016 Games just 48 hours before the vote.

Copenhagen – Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympic Games bid team on Wednesday lodged a complaint with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ethics commission against Madrid, forcing an apology out of their Spanish rival.

Rio protested after the second in command of Spain's Olympic Committee described the Brazilian city as "the worst of the four candidates" in the race to host the 2016 Games just 48 hours before the vote.

"We have lodged a formal complaint," a Rio spokesman confirmed here Wednesday.

"We are disappointed at these comments which don't correspond with the conclusions of the IOC's evaluation commission," the spokesman added.

The comments that have angered Rio were made by Jose Maria Odriozola in an interview to the Efe news agency earlier on Wednesday.

Odriozola, who is also president of the Spanish Athletics Federation, claimed Rio was the worst candidate compared to Tokyo and Madrid who according to him had the best bids.

Rio are perceived to be running neck and neck with Chicago ahead of Madrid and Tokyo but Odriozola said their position as front runners was down to "marketing" and their constant reference to holding "the first South American Games".

"At this level the IOC are not going to risk giving the Games to a city in which it doesn't have full confidence," he said.

Madrid later tried to diffuse the row by issuing an apology.

Mercedes Coghan, the Madrid 2016 bid team's chief executive officer told a press conference: "We are sorry for that comment.

"We have tried to have fair play for the past three and a half years of the campaign.

"All four cities are good candidates, they all can win, but hopefully Madrid will win."

Odriozola's boss at Spain's Olympic Committee, Alberto Blanco, added: "Rio's weak points are contained in the IOC's evaluation, just like Madrid's but obviously I'm not going to talk about them.

"I concentrate on Madrid's strong points, and the weak points of the other three cities.

"It is not that Rio is far behind, all the candidates are at the same level and any one of them can win."

This is the second such complaint Rio has made to the IOC's ethics commission this week.

On Tuesday the South Americans filed a protest against Chicago after the US city's mayor Richard M Daley was reported to have suggested last week that hosting the World Cup, as Brazil will do in 2014, was not the same as hosting the Games.

Rio believes that Chicago were implying they were incapable of hosting the Olympics and with just two days remaining until the vote by the 100-plus IOC members, they considered it worthy of being reported to the Ethics Commission.

Criticising a rival candidate is not allowed under IOC rules.

AFP / Francoise Chaptal / Expatica

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