We're into an Olympic year, with Tokyo preparing to host the Games for a second time, and I can't help but feel sorry that they won't be held rather closer to home. Madrid was also vying for the event when it was awarded to the Japanese capital in 2013, putting forward a bid that reflected the social and economic realities of a world in the midst of a major financial crisis. Adapting the Olympics to their venue, rather than vice versa, was the message. Tokyo submitted a very different bid, an optimistic, expansive proposal, and won out. A year later, the Olympic Agenda 2020 was approved, bringing with it a reduction in maximum bid budgets from 30bn dollars to just 13bn. Or, according to some sources, to 11bn.
Time has borne out the central tenet of Madrid's candidacy, but being proved right after the fact isn't much use to our bid team, who came back from the host-city election in Buenos Aires with little further appetite to try to bring the Games to Spain's capital, given it had now missed out on three straight Olympics. However, we'll go to Japan with optimism and with plenty of representatives, because this pre-Olympic year has gone very well. In team sports, only the women's basketball and two handball sides are still to qualify. Public funding of Spanish sport isn't what it once was, but private backing has emerged (UCAM, Iberdrola, Telefónica, LaLiga, Fundación Trinidad Alfonso...) that goes a long way to making up for that.
2020 Olympics should show Spanish sport is in rude health
With any luck, we'll have Rafa Nadal, Alejandro Valverde and Pau Gasol there, three forces of nature who are defying the passage of time. And perhaps also Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué, as two of our three overage players in the men's football tournament; they've both said they're keen. Spain's Olympic coach, Luis de la Fuente, looks to be anything but against the idea: he has said he isn't ruling anyone out. It would certainly bring added spice to our return to Olympic football. As for Spain's female athletes, who will make up about half of a team likely to comprise roughly 300, we have Lydia Valentín, Carolina Marín, Mireia Belmonte... Spanish sport is in good shape, and these Games should serve to show just that.