“Nos lo han quitado”


Congratulations to Rio de Janeiro, which just won the bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. The Brazilian metropolis will be the first city in South America to host the games, and it will be a great chance for the world to learn more about a country and culture I was lucky enough to glimpse on a brief visit last year.

Madrid’s reaction to the news of their own failed bid was no big surprise. Disappointment, shock, tears…much the same as in Chicago and Tokyo, the other two candidate cities. But something is different about Madrid’s attitude after a loss, any loss in fact. In this case, an old woman who had come out to celebrate Madrid’s “inevitable” win, shook her head and told a TV3 reporter, “Nos lo han quitado.” (Or in English, “They took it away from us.”)


This is a very typical Spanish reaction to losing. In the case of the 2016 Olympics bid, Spanish President Zapatero insisted for the past few days that Madrid’s candidacy “could not have been any stronger.” (Or in English, “It’s not our fault if we lose.”) In soccer’s World Cup a few years ago in Korea, Spain’s elimination provoked speculation about corrupt officials and backroom dealings. Many Spanish verbs are even formulated in such a way as to deflect guilt. If you drop a hammer on your foot, in Spanish you say, “Se me cayó el martillo” – “The hammer fell on me.”

Madrid should accept this loss gracefully, and others I know (some of you read my blog) should not provoke them while they’re down. They’ve already been exposed as the sore losers they are and there’s no need to rub it in.

And let’s start planning our trip to Rio!