Madrid's bid for the 2020 Olympic Games was given a resounding show of public support on Saturday night as 50,000 people took part in a range of sporting activities to highlight the city's desire to host the Games in eight years time.
A final decision on whether it will be Madrid, Tokyo or Istanbul that wins the right to host the XXXII Olympiad will be made in Buenos Aires on September 7 and there is a growing belief that after failed bids for the previous two summer Games, the degree of public support could drive Madrid to success this time around.
"We deserve the Games and it is a collective dream, not just in Madrid but in Spain in general that it becomes a reality," mayor Ana Botella said as she formally opened the event.
In keeping with the bid for the Games, a number of the city's landmarks were used for events with beach volleyball taking place in Retiro Park, while crowds took part in aerobic and cardiovascular training sessions outside Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Table tennis, seven-a-side soccer, basketball and gymnastics activities were also held throughout the city.
However, the main event was an 8-kilometer run that started at 10:30 pm local time, to coincide with the time when the winner of the bid will be announced in Buenos Aires, in which 30,000 people took part.
And bid president Alejandro Blanco believes the event was a clear demonstration of the public support for the bid.
"The opinion polls talk of more than 80 percent of public support, but it is enough to take a look at the streets of Madrid to see that this city wants the Games. This is the best opinion poll you could have and these images will be seen around the world," he said.
Indeed, 81 percent of Madrid's citizens are said to be in favor of the bid despite Spain's ongoing economic crisis.
The bid leaders have consistently stressed that the cost of hosting the Games will not come close to the nearly 9 billion pound ($13.9) the London 2012 Games cost due to the majority of the sporting stadia and infrastructure already being in place.
Moreover, there is the hope that the Games could even help stimulate the Spanish economy.
Reuters - Global Times