Spain abandons Madrid 2036 Olympic bid to focus on possible Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Winter Games

Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) president Alejandro Blanco confirmed Wednesday that plans for a Madrid 2036 Olympic Games bid have been abandoned on the advice of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who believe Spain will have a better shot at hosting the 2030 Winter Games instead.

Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco (left)meets with Madrid mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida to discuss possible Madrid Olympic bid (Image: COE Twitter)
Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco (left)meets with Madrid mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida to discuss possible Madrid Olympic bid (Image: COE Twitter)

“I have had several meetings with the mayor of Madrid talking about this issue and Madrid, without a doubt, is a city that should try to host the Olympic Games, but it will not opt for the 2036 Games,” Blanco told Catalonia radio RAC1.

“The IOC told us that the best chances are to prepare the Winter Games [in 2030 with Pyrenees-Barcelona].”

Madrid failed on three consecutive Summer Games bids to host in 2012, 2016 and 2020.  A previous 1972 campaign was also defeated.

Blanco said that the capital’s chances to host the Games remain further in the future insisting “Madrid’s dream must not disappear” and asking for patience.

The COE has been involved in the continuous dialogue phase of a new Olympic bid process that promotes engagement among National Olympic Committees and the IOC’s Future Host Commission to proactively plan the path of the Olympic Games.  This has allowed the exchange of ideas and advice, and in this case the best plan forward for Spain.

Catalan capital Barcelona along with the Pyrenees region are engaged in a four-way battle to host in 2030 among rivals Sapporo in Japan, Salt Lake City in United States and Vancouver in Canada.  The Spanish bid will face a referendum sometime in the spring and must settle internal politics that has put the leadership of the project in peril.

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

The power struggle has crippled decision making with the organization where leaders cannot even agree to the name of the project.  Blanco refused to comment on the the naming and downplayed the issue claiming that the project must first be built, then it can be named.

But he suggested “‘Barcelona’ has a lot of strength as its name.”

“‘Pyrenees’ can go alone or accompanied.”

Officials first used Barcelona-Pyrenees, then changed it to Pyrenees-Barcelona when it became clear that the wider region could host the Games entirely.  Pyrenees-Barcelona-Zaragoza was also on the table at one time when Zaragoza demanded marquee recognition for the use of its ice facilities.

Events could also be staged at the Sarajevo sliding track in Bosnia and Herzegovina, built for the 1984 Winter Games.  Blanco said a team is headed to the venue to evaluate the viability of the facilities.

There is no set timetable for the naming of the 2030 or 2036 host cities.  Through continuous dialogue, the IOC can name its preferred candidate at any time and submit it for approval by the IOC Session.  However, it is expected the 2030 host will be confirmed by 2023 to allow it ample time to prepare for the Games.

The 2026 Winter Games will be staged by Milan-Cortina in Italy.

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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