(ATR) CEO Francisco Irarrazaval tells Around the Rings
the Buenos Aires bid for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games is about delivering a once-in-a-lifetime experience for teen athletes around the world.
Francisco Irarrazaval. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
“Buenos Aires is such a cosmopolitan, socially diverse city,” says the former rugby player and current under-secretary of sport for the Argentine capital.
“This is going to be a really nice and great experience for all those kids that are going to come to our city – a sports experience, first of all, but also a cultural, social and diverse experience.”
Irarrazaval spoke with ATR during last week’s meetings of the IOC Executive Board in Lausanne, where Buenos Aires survived a cut to the field for the 2018 YOG along with Glasgow and Medellin, Colombia. Guadalajara and Rotterdam were the two nixed bids.
“We are really happy and honored to be passing through the shortlist,” says the Argentine.
“There’s lots of work to do now in this short time.”
The three candidates now face further assessment about the specifics of their bid books. Video conferences between the bid cities and IOC are scheduled for April. An evaluation report will then be submitted to IOC members, who will elect the host city at a July 4 meeting in Lausanne.
Asked about the most appealing aspect of the Buenos Aires bid, Irarrazaval stresses the city’s tourism pedigree as a gateway of sorts for Argentina, citing more than 10 million visitors in 2012 alone.
“It is true that we spotted potential issues with financial guarantees" for Guadalajara and Rotterdam, explained IOC president Jacques Rogge. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
“We are built on receiving people, embracing people and welcoming people,” he tells ATR
According to Irarrazaval, it’s a help and not a hindrance that the IOC sent the 2016 Summer Olympics to fellow Latin American metropolis Rio de Janeiro.
“Latin America is growing worldwide,” he explains.
“Nobody took Latin America seriously, and Rio opened this door […] These are new markets, these are new people, younger people,” he says.
Another advantage, according to Irarrazaval, is the size discrepancy between Buenos Aires and its two rival bids.
“Buenos Aires is the only capital still bidding, and that for me means security,” he says, claiming the city is the third most secure in the Americas.
“We are accustomed to lots of things happening, so being the capital reinforces the interests of the federal government and all the provinces. There’s a saying in Buenos Aires that God is everywhere, but he attends in Buenos Aires.”
After bids for the Olympics in 1936, 1956, 1968 and 2004, staging the IOC Session in September 2013 and YOG in summer 2018 could offer a starting point for another try at the Games.
The Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires, host of the 2013 IOC Session. (ATR)
Plans submitted to the IOC in October follow a concept originally pitched for 2004 that would tie together the village and venues in a sort of Olympic corridor.
IOC member and NOC president Gerardo Werthein has told ATR
his city “has it all” – although some venues, including River Plate Stadium, would need to be updated.
The bid from Buenos Aires also stresses technology, youth – one fifth of Argentina’s population is under the age of 18 – as well as the power of social media.
Argentina, according to Irarrazaval, was the seventh country in the world to receive Facebook.
“It’s exciting to live in Buenos Aires,” he says.
“We are all about sports. Nobody speaks about politics, about the economy. We speak about sports.”
Written by Matthew Grayson
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