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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 February, 2005, 22:35 GMT
IOC team impressed by Madrid bid
Madrid hosts the first inspection visit
London: 16-19 Feb
New York: 21-24 Feb
Paris: 9-12 Mar
Moscow: 14-17 Mar
The International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission has said it is impressed with the quality of Madrid's bid to host the 2012 Games.

The group completed a four-day trip to the Spanish capital on Sunday.

Nawal El Moutawakel, chairwoman of the evaluation committee, said she had been happy with polls suggesting 91% of Spaniards were in favour of the bid.

"The committee must be congratulated on the quality of its candidature file and presentations," said El Moutawakel.

Madrid did witness some protests against the bid, but the 13-strong committee did not meet any of the groups unhappy at Madrid's participation.

"We were very happy to see there is very strong support from the government, from the population, and this is something the IOC really appreciates," added El Moutawakel.

"We of course received some protests, but none of them asked to meet for dialogue."

As expected, the inspectors did not express any detailed impressions of Madrid's bid, with visits to the other four cities - London, New York, Paris and Moscow - still to be completed.

The group of inspectors includes transport, environmental and Paralympic experts, while Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks is the athletes' representative.

El Moutawakel, a gold medallist at the 1984 Olympics, said the inspectors paid particular attention to security after last year's train bombings.

Madrid, which finished second in the IOC's preliminary evaluation last year, is hoping its promise to put on a "green" Games will give it the edge over its rivals.

Its bid also highlights the city's high-quality public transport network, modern infrastructure and party atmosphere.

On Friday, the inspection team were taken on a tour of the core sites of the Madrid bid, including the planned Olympic stadium and athletes' village, which will be within five minutes' walking distance of each other.

They also visited the nearby Madrid Trade Fair centre, which would hold such events as fencing, badminton or boxing.

They concluded the excursion with a walk around the city's new international airport terminal before taking the underground train for a 12-minute ride back to the centre.

The upgrades planned for some of the venues will go ahead whether Madrid actually wins or not, says BBC Radio Five Live's sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar, who is in the city for the visit.

There is a venue already at the proposed main stadium site, which hosted the 2002 Athletics World Cup, and a new metro station being built there.

The aquatic centre, currently being constructed, will be completed by the end of next year.

On Saturday, the evaluation commission visited more venues, including Madrid's two main football stadiums, Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu and the Vicente Calderon, home of Atletico Madrid.

The committee will publish its findings in May, one month before the final IOC vote.

Although its verdict is not binding, a critical report on any of the five cities would be considered disastrous.

Paris is considered the current favourite to win the vote in Singapore on 6 July, followed by London, Madrid and New York, with Moscow the outsiders.

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