Pau Gasol to represent Madrid for 2020 Olympic bid

Pau Gasol will sit out of the FIBA EuroBasket Championships in September in hopes of fully rehabbing his knees, but the Lakers forward plans to help his native Spain in a different way.

Madrid’s 2020 Olympic bid committee has appointed Gasol as one of its spokesman and will address International Olympic Committee during Madrid’s final presentation in Buenos Aires next month. Gasol provided an impassioned statement and indirectly suggested how hosting the Summer Games would provide a significant financial boost to Spain, which has battled a recession for most of the past four years and has a 26.3 percent unemployment rate.

“The Olympic Games are more than sport – I know this personally as an Olympian. Spanish sport and the people of Madrid need the boost the Olympic Games would provide, and Madrid is ready to face this challenge,” Gasol said in a statement. “But Madrid will also give something back to the Olympic Movement – we are a city that is prepared with a responsible bid plan that will help develop sport far into the future.”

Gasol remains one of Spain’s most popular sport for obvious reasons.

He led Spain to a silver medal finish in the past two Olympics, including 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. Gasol also guided Spain to three gold medals (2006 FIBA World Cup, 2009 and 2011 FIBA European Championships), two silvers (2003 and 2007 European Championships) and one bronze (2001 European Championship). Such a presence propelled Gasol into becoming Spain’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Games.

But Gasol’s new responsibility goes beyond his athletic accomplishments.

“All of our athletes would have played a remarkable role, but we selected Pau and asked him to help us, because he is not only a great sportsman, but he also demonstrates exceptional personal values that go beyond sport and reach out to the youth of the world,” said Alejandro Blanco in a statement, the President of the Bid and of the Spanish Olympic Committee.

Madrid will compete with Tokyo and Istanbul for the 2020 Summer Games. The IOC will announce its decision Sept. 7 in Argentina.

 

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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