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Olympics - Madrid hoping a king plus a PM trumps a president
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Madrid not only believe they have the best bid for the 2016 Olympics, they are pretty sure they have U.S. President Barack Obama outnumbered and outranked.
"As a Madrid campaigner I can say that President Obama is an extraordinary personality," Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the former IOC president, said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
"That's one extraordinary personality. We will bring His Majesty the King of Spain, that's one, and Prime Minister Zapatero, that's two. So that's two against one."
Obama will address the International Olympic Committee session on Friday, when members will choose between Madrid, Chicago, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro for the host city of the 2016 Summer Games. First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in Copenhagen to start lobbying on Wednesday.
Madrid mounted a strong bid when London won the race for the 2012 Games. This time their bid again enjoys massive public support in Madrid and across Spain, while much of the infrastructure is already in place.
With the 1992 Barcelona Games still remembered fondly by the Olympic movement, Samaranch believes the Spanish capital has a powerful argument to make.
"Legacy in Madrid will be very important but ... we are putting people before infrastructure," Samaranch said.
"If you remember what happened in Sydney (in 2000) or Barcelona, people changed. When the Games left, people were more optimistic, more proud of themselves and that has created for many, many years, at least in my country, better growth, better regeneration, education, better everything.
"That is the kind of legacy: more in the people than in the stones or the bridges or the steel. That is the legacy that Madrid can certainly offer for us Spaniards and the rest of the world."
Samaranch welcomed Obama's decision to attend the session as a great honour for the Olympic movement.
(Editing by Miles Evans. To comment on this story email email@example.com)
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