Catalan leader pushes for candidacy without Aragon as Spain’s joint 2030 Winter Olympic bid reaches stalemate

With both sides of Spain’s joint 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid refusing to budge amid failing negotiations, Minister for the Presidency of the Generalitat in Catalonia, Laura Vilagrà wants her region to continue alone.

Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony (Photo: Barcelona Tourism)

Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony (Photo: Barcelona Tourism)

Vilagrà on Wednesday openly asked the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) and Spanish Minister of Culture and Sports to consider a sole candidacy by Catalonia and capital Barcelona as discussions with Aragon leaders have become increasingly difficult.

The Minister accused Aragon leadership of playing political games, according to 20 Minutos, adding that “anti-Catalanism” has stood in the way of making any progress in the negotiations to allocate proposed venues across the regions.  She claimed her team is working hard on the technical aspects of a winning candidacy, but they have reached a “point of no return” by failing to progress forward with a joint bid.

Vilagrà warned on Catalunya Ràdio that this opportunity for a Spanish Winter Games bid should not be squandered, pointing out that Aragon alone lost four previous bids with Jaca as a candidate.  Jaca placed fourth of five cities vying to host the 1998 Games that were awarded to Nagano, then failed to reach the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) bid shortlist in the 2002, 2010 and 2014 races.

She ruled out waiting for a 2034 bid instead, claiming Catalonia already has a “powerful, competitive and winning candidacy” for 2030.

“We propose that the option of a Catalan candidacy be evaluated”, Vilagrà said.

“We have been ready for a long time, we have earned the position because we have worked seriously for a long time and we would not understand if this option was not on the table.”

Minister of the Aragonese Presidency, Mayte Pérez responded by telling media that the Aragon team only asks to be given equal footing in the project.  Pérez insisted that any bid moving forward must include Aragon, and any failure of a joint candidacy belongs to Catalonia due to its refusal to share the proposed Games equitably.

Pérez said that the bid has not yet been called off claiming her team is still waiting for a response from the COE on its latest proposal.

Meanwhile the Spanish bid is falling further behind rivals.

On Tuesday in Whistler, British Columbia, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) officials unveiled preliminary plans for an indigenous-led bid as a public engagement campaign was launched.

This week a high-level delegation from Salt Lake City led by Olympic Champion skier Lindsey Vonn traveled to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland to meet in person with IOC officials for the first time.

In Sapporo last week the city assembly ruled out any possible referendum over the bid amid an ongoing public engagement campaign.  That decision triggered small protests against the Games that were held in Tokyo and Sapporo.

All three bidders have already received an IOC technical team and have been invited to a virtual Beijing 2022 Winter Games debrief to be held next week in Milan, Italy.

The COE has twice canceled scheduled visits by the IOC and was forced to postpone a planned July 24 referendum while the bid remains in a hiatus.

The IOC Executive Board expects to name candidates for a targeted dialogue as early as December 7, and could name a winner next May 30 at a Session in Mumbai, India.

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