Spain’s Rising Unemployment, Massive Debt…But The Olympic Show Must Go On

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Despite, or may be because of, the massive economic problems in Spain, the Spanish government announced over the weekend that their bid for the 2020 Olympics will go ahead. Spain will be up against just two other candidates, Tokyo and Istanbul; Rome has pulled out due to Italy’s financial problems. The Olympic committee will decide in September 2013, meantime Spain must convince not only the committee but also its people that a bid for the Olympics is not only wise but also possible. Many Spaniards feel the bid is hard to swallow when the austerity measures that have been imposed on them are so hard to swallow. The members of the Spanish government who insist that the bid is prudent argue that over 85% of the venues are in place. Various groups opposed to the bid insist that the money that will have to be ear-marked for games should instead be used for over stretched public services. The Olympic committee must also be convinced that political unrest, such as the sit-ins organized by groups such as the Indignados, will not disrupt or threaten the safety of athletes and spectators.

Hot on the heels of Madrid’s Olympic announcement comes the news that Spain may need a state bailout. The cost of a bailout would probably be double that of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal combined. If Spain’s Olympic hopefuls feel the country would prosper from hosting the Games, they should take a careful look at the London Olympics’ spreadsheet: Estimated cost (made in 2005) to host the Games US$2 billion, actual cost US$14 billion.

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Lucy Culpepper

Lucy Culpepper has traveled to, written about, and worked in some 30 countries. She is originally from Wales in the United Kingdom, has lived all over the UK, in southern California, Spain, and France and has spent extended time in Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica.