2020 Olympics: Madrid benefiting from experiences of previous bid, says Gasol

Spanish basketball player Pau Gasol (right) and World Boxing Council middleweight champion Sergio Martinez of Argentina in Buenos Aires on Sept 5, 2013. Gasol believes Madrid's unsuccessful attempts in the last two races to host the Olympics put
Spanish basketball player Pau Gasol (right) and World Boxing Council middleweight champion Sergio Martinez of Argentina in Buenos Aires on Sept 5, 2013. Gasol believes Madrid's unsuccessful attempts in the last two races to host the Olympics put the city in a unique position to bag the 2020 Games. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SPAIN basketball star Pau Gasol believes Madrid's unsuccessful attempts in the last two races to host the Olympics put the city in a unique position to bag the 2020 Games.

The two-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist, in Buenos Aires to lend support to Madrid's hopes of beating Tokyo and Istanbul in the three-city race, said that the bid team have made every effort to ensure that they emerge on top when the winning city is announced on Saturday afternoon (4am Sunday Singapore time).

"We have learnt from the last two campaigns and believe we have our strongest bid yet," the Los Angeles Lakers centre told The Straits Times.

Madrid bowed out in the third round in the race for the 2012 Games and in the final round for the 2016 Games. London and Rio de Janeiro came up winners respectively.

This time round, Madrid is viewed by many as staging a strong late charge after negative publicity has hit both Tokyo's (concerns over the radioactive water leaks from the Fukushima nuclear plant) and Istanbul's (doping scandals and threat of war in nearby Syria) campaigns.

While Spain is not without problems - it has been stuck in recession and has a 26.3 per cent unemployment rate - its chances have been boosted by a July presentation by Crown Prince Felipe, a former Olympian. International Olympic Committee sources also say that the prince has impressed members in Buenos Aires with a charm offensive.

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