“We can lose, but we will never be defeated,” says head of bid

Alejandro Blanco broke down in tears after announcement

Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, after the vote was announced.
Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, after the vote was announced. EFE

After a round of applause that lasted more than a minute, the president of Madrid’s 2020 bid took to the stage on Saturday night after the Spanish capital was eliminated from the voting in the first round. Alejandro Blanco made a short speech, and then promptly burst into tears.

During his statement, he gave thanks to the mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, with whom he has had a somewhat tense relationship at times. “It’s not always easy understanding who is responsible for what during a project,” he said. “But we have worked hand in hand.” He also thanked his “great friend Nacho,” in reference to Ignacio González, the regional leader of Madrid, and the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy: “He has shown us all that in life you have to compete, and that sometimes you lose, but tomorrow will be another day.” But in particular, he had thanks for Prince Felipe.

“I don’t know what happened,” Blanco said. “It’s a secret ballot and I accept the result. […] If all of us understand what the royal family means, and what Spain means, it will serve as a great lesson for the future. We can lose, but we will never be defeated.”

For her part, Botella made a brief speech, in which she said that “Spanish sportsmen and sportswomen are just as good now as they were two hours ago.” She said that she “felt the sadness of all Madrileños, but we have to be conscious of the fact that our city has been up to the task of presenting a bid, and that now it is the same city, one that has a lot of challenges to deal with.”

The mayor thanked the support she had from the leader of the opposition in the city council, Jaime Lissavetzky, of the Socialist Party. In his opinion, “the economic factor has been the key in terms of Madrid losing out to Tokyo.” That, he continued, “was the only thing that they had to beat us with. It’s not the sole reason for the loss,” he explained, “but it is a fundamental factor.”

“Don’t lose heart,” the prime minister told Ana Botella, just after the result was announced. “We have fought for it.”

“We are very disappointed with the result,” Prince Felipe told the press. “But an amazing job has been done, even if we didn’t win. We have to keep our spirits high, as there are many projects that we need to keep working on as a country, and a small setback like this one needs to be dealt with before we continue along our journey.”

One of the members of the Spanish team to be most affected by the news was the water polo player Jennifer Pareja, who sobbed uncontrollably after hearing that Madrid was out. “This is the worst thing that could have happened,” she said. “It just wasn’t in our plans. We were so full of optimism, with our feet on the ground, but no one could have imagined that this was going to happen. We were frozen.” Her voice, perhaps more than anyone else’s, summed up the sadness of the whole delegation.

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