Head of IOC team leaves Madrid abruptly

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Head of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation team Moroccan Nawal el Moutawakel had to go to Morocco as she was called by the king and is scheduled to return to Madrid on Friday.

MADRID – The head of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation team left Madrid on Wednesday in the middle of a five-day visit to evaluate the Spanish capital's bid for the 2016 Games, a bid official said.

Nawal el Moutawakel, Morocco's Olympic 400metres hurdles champion and the north African country's sports minister, left Spain after being summoned by Moroccan King Mohammed VI, the official told AFP.

"She had to return to Morocco, she was called by the king. We do not know the reasons why and she is scheduled to return on Friday," he said.

During her absence another member of the IOC delegation, Taiwan's Ching-Kuo Wu, will act as the head of the evaluation mission. Wu is the president of the International Boxing Federation in addition to being an IOC member.

The delegation arrived in Madrid on Monday after already visiting the three other candidate cities: Chicago, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.

The 13-member IOC team were whisked around the city to see existing and planned sites for Olympic venues on hybrid buses in line with the city's promise to hold a green Games.

At the Olympic stadium they were welcomed by Atletico Madrid stars Sergio "Kun" Aguero, Diego Forlan and Maxi Rodriguez as well as the football club's president Enrique Cerezo.

Atletico is slated to move to the Olympic stadium in the 2012/13 season after it undergoes a major refurbishing.

They delegation also visited the newly inaugurated "Magic Box" tennis venue which has three main courts which each have a retractable roof to allow simultaneous play in all weathers.

It also has 16 outdoor courts, five indoor courts, six training courts and an indoor pool.

Like the "Water Cube" in China that was used as the 2008 Olympic swimming venue, the "Magic Box" uses poly-bicarbonate walls that allow for a "see-through" effect.

The delegation also visited Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium which would host the final of the Olympic football tournament if Madrid is awarded the Games.

They were welcomed at the stadium by Real president Vicente Boluda - who was placed under judicial investigation on Wednesday along with former president Ramon Calderon over vote rigging allegations at the club - and the club's honorary president, Alfredo di Stefano, the club's all-time leading scorer who played for Real from 1953 to 1963 after beginning his career with Argentine giants River Plate.

He was named European Footballer of the Year twice in 1957 and 1959, won the Spanish title eight times and was five times top scorer in the domestic league.

The IOC team’s visit to the Spanish capital will wrap up on Friday. They will then produce a technical report that will provide the basis for the IOC when they choose the host city in Copenhagen on 2 October.

Meanwhile, the chief of Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympics said she saw "impressed faces" amongst the International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation Wednesday as they began to inspect the venues which would be used if the Spanish capital is awarded the Games.

"We demonstrated that we have a worthwhile project, I saw impressed faces," former Olympic field hockey champion Mercedes Coghen told a news conference on Wednesday.

"It was a great day, a complete visit, they are leaving with great memories," said Coghen.

Madrid is stressing the fact that it has 77 percent of the needed infrastructure already completed.

This is Madrid's second consecutive bid after it also bid for the 2012 Games, which were awarded to London.

AFP / Expatica

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