The Spanish region of Catalonia has prepared a solo bid to host the Olympic Winter Games in 2030 or 2034, and on Thursday Minister of the Presidency Laura Vilagrà presented the details that are now officially published on the government website.
A joint bid between Catalonia and Aragon disintegrated in June after government officials accused one another of playing politics, leading to a stalemate on negotiations over the venue allocation. With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declaring that a decision was just months away, Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) president Alejandro Blanco called off his bid with time running out. A referendum on the project had been scheduled for July 25.
Blanco then vowed that he would prepare a new bid to host instead in 2034 and was willing to listen to new proposals from regions across Spain. Aragon has already discussed its intentions for a 2034 bid but the new Catalan pitch doesn’t specify whether it is targeting 2030 or 2034.
Vilagrà’s concept unveiled Thursday at a meeting of regional representatives leverages venues that were part of the dissolved project, and replaces those that had been proposed for Aragon to instead be relocated to Catalonia, and other countries. A new a high-performance ice sports center would be built in Gavà to host curling and ski jumping would be staged across the border in Sarajevo. Other venues would be located in Barcelona and across the Catalan Pyrenees.
At the meeting Vilagrà insisted that the bid would be a “country project” that has “a broad social and territorial consensus.”
The concept would need an endorsement from the COE, but time is running out if 2030 is the target. Earlier this year IOC president Thomas Bach said the goal of his Executive Board was to name preferred candidates for the 2030 Games in December with a possible host election in May 2023 at an all-member’s Session in Mumbai, India. To reach these targets, the IOC’s Future Host Commission would have to fully vet the Spanish bid by November.
Possible bids from previous Winter Games hosts Salt Lake City in the United States, Sapporo in Japan and British Columbia in Canada are already advanced in their planning and have received an IOC technical team to conduct site visits. The same team visit was canceled by Spanish organizers when the previous joint project stalled.
But there may still be room for another Spanish bid if the potential candidates don’t come forward as expected. U.S. organizers have indicated that they may look ahead to 2034 instead to avoid a domestic hosting conflict with the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games being held only 18 months earlier. A leadership team for the BC bid has yet to confirm that the project will move forward, with the indigenous-led Games requiring approval from all hosting First Nations and municipalities. The Canadian bid may also face a plebiscite and a change of municipal governments in October.
Sapporo’s city government has already declared that a referendum will not be required.
Timelines proposed by Bach are not official and the Olympic Charter would allow for the election to be held at a later date if more time is required.
The next Winter Games will open across Northern Italy in 2026 with joint hosts Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.