Barcelona Could Be Available To Host 2026 Winter Olympics If Current Bid Race Collapses

Government officials in Barcelona, Spain are open to the possibility of hosting the 2026 Olympic Winter Games Mundo Deportivo reported after meetings were held between sports administrators and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Barcelona, Spain hosted the 1992 Olympic Games (Wikipedia Photo)

Barcelona, Spain hosted the 1992 Olympic Games (Wikipedia Photo)

Samaranch and IOC Deputy Director Pere Miró met with the Catalon Director General of Sport Gerard Figueras at the Museum of the Center for Sports Studies last week to discuss the prospect of a future Winter Games bid by the Catalan Capital – most likely in 2030 – however 2026 was not ruled out.

Figueras said “we are with the idea of ​​asking the IOC for the letter of intent for 2030.  But we are open to 2026 if the IOC so requests.”

The IOC has asked for details of the Barcelona project to study within 16 days, and although the deadline to express interest for 2026 expired this past March, the IOC is reportedly willing to discuss the option as the current list of interested cities dwindles.

Both Spanish IOC member Samaranch and Miró played up the strengths of a Barcelona and Pyrenees Region bid in the local media, saying that the plans “make a lot of sense.”

Miró is a native of Barcelona.

Barcelona had started preparing a bid for the 2022 Winter Games but abandoned plans before crossing the start line.  Subsequently, five other European bids cancelled their campaigns for the same Games due to issues around costs and risks – leaving Beijing to defeat only Almaty in Kazakhstan to win the right to host those Games.

Last month Sion in Switzerland lost a canton-wide referendum and withdrew its 2026 bid.  Calgary in Canada and Graz in Austria are to face similar risky votes, and bids from Italy and Stockholm still seek elusive government support.  Sapporo in Japan may delay its project until 2030 and Erzurum in Turkey, with major security issues due to its proximity to the Syrian border, rounds out the list of six contenders.

Though a Barcelona 2026 bid would face challenges similar to its European counterparts, the city offers a viable option for the IOC should all other bets fall through.  The IOC has made it known that it seeks a traditional winter sports site for the 2026 Games and many understand that to describe Western Europe.

Salt Lake City in the U.S. has also expressed interest in availing itself for 2026 as a plan ‘B’ for the IOC, but the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has instead committed to a bid for the 2030 Games, honouring an exclusivity contract with the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games.

Officials in Lillehammer, Norway have also voiced intent to bid for the 2030 Games.

IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch Visits Austrian Olympic Committee in Vienna (OOC Photo)

Last month IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch (right) Visited the Austrian Olympic Committee in Vienna to discuss the Graz 2026 Winter Games bid (OOC Photo)

A Barcelona bid would leverage the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms to propose a feasible and sustainable Games plan.  With a regional footprint, few venues would need to be constructed and sliding events could be staged in Albertville, France.

Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Games, and Spain then bid unsuccessfully for five consecutive editions with Seville for 2004 and 2008 and Madrid for 2012, 2016 and 2020.  Jaca in Spain lost Winter Games bids for 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014.

Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics when the cauldron is lit in February 2022.  A successful Barcelona bid would mark only the second time a city will host both major editions of the Games.

The IOC will announce a shortlist at it Buenos Aires Session in October and the host city will be elected in September 2019.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.