Controversial key leadership appointment further destabilizes Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Winter Olympic bid

Two-time Winter Olympian in Alpine Skiing Mònica Bosch was named coordinator of the Pyrenees-Barcelona 2032 Olympic Winter Games bid last week and will be charged with leading the technical team as it builds a proposal for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be delivered later this year.

Olympian and president of the Catalan Winter Sports Federation Mònica Bosch has been appointed new coordinator for Pyrenees Barcelona 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid (Photo: Twitter/@mboschf)
Olympian and president of the Catalan Winter Sports Federation Mònica Bosch has been appointed new coordinator for Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid (Photo: Twitter/@mboschf)

Bosch, who has led the Catalan Winter Sports Federation since 2016 and became the organization’s president in 2020, has already been involved in strategic planning for winter sports in Catalonia.  She will leave her current post to take on the new role.

The new appointment has further destabilized the multiregional bid among Spain’s Catalan and Aragon regions that have struggled to cooperate and agree on which community should provide leadership to the project.

President of Aragon, Javier Lambán says the unilateral appointment of Catalan-backed Bosch is an affront to his region that risks the viability of the entire bid.  He blames the power-play on the Generalitat “pro-independence movement” according to a report in L’Esportiu.

“With the conditions that the Generalitat is proposing, there will be no Games,” Lambán  told the Catalonia-based publication.

Further emphasizing Aragon’s importance to the bid and its need for greater control he added “Aragon could present a candidacy as powerful or more than that of Catalonia, but we have always understood that this was a candidacy of Spain led by the COE [Spanish Olympic Committee] on equal terms, and we have never subordinated the general interest of Spain in the maintenance of outdated ideologies, of exclusive nationalisms that are so devastating in the EU as a whole.”

According to an Aragon government statement, Lambán has contacted COE president Alejandro Blanco for support as he sees the Catalonia struggle for control as detrimental to the campaign owned by the Spanish Olympic Committee.  A Catalan bid is dependent on the snow and mountain facilities that are situated in Aragon so an agreement must be reached if the joint Pyrenees-Barcelona bid is to move forward.

The project is also considering a partnership with 1984 Winter Games host Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina to stage sliding events on a refurbished track.

The bid will also rely on a favorable result from the general referendum planned for spring that, according to current plans, will only include communities that would be directly impacted by the Games and not the wider regions.  The referendum would exclude Barcelona and Aragon and other areas that might be affected indirectly through infrastructure build and economic impact.

Opposition groups are calling for a more comprehensive vote across all regions.

A recent Catalan government sponsored poll found that 73 percent support the bid, but the same opposition have pointed out technical flaws in the survey including the small sample size and misleading questions that position the results as nothing more than “propaganda.”  Criticism over the transparency of the bid, that has no published plans, has also cast shade on past poll results and a future referendum.

The IOC has no set timeframe for the election of the 2030 Winter Games host, but could single out a preferred candidate for vetting at any time.

An organized bid from Sapporo in Japan has recently released preliminary plans for a 2030 bid and will survey its population about the project this spring.  The city that hosted the 1972 edition of the winter Games, last year staged road racing events for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Summer Games.

Salt Lake City hopes to reprise its successful 2002 Games in 2030, and last year IOC President Thomas Bach said he admired the “unity” observed among governments backing that project – a comment that served as a possible warning to Spain’s bid.

Vancouver in Canada is developing a bid that will be organized by indigenous people from First Nations.  The effort to follow up the city’s 2010 edition may be a little too late with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) admitting that the project may not culminate until the end of 2022.

A pledge made last year by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for his nation to bid for the 2030 Winter Games launched a campaign that included interest from Lviv and Odessa, but these aspirations have been abandoned as the Russian invasion and deadly bombardment of cities that began last month continues to devastate the country.

The 2026 Winter Games will be staged in Northern Italy under the banner Milan-Cortina.

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.

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