Spain’s 2030 Winter Olympics joint bid in peril as sides fail to reach agreement

The two sides of Spain’s joint Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid have failed to agree on plans to host the Games Monday, the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) announced.

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

Last Friday’s self-imposed deadline announced by COE President Alejandro Blanco earlier this month was missed and at the conclusion of the eleventh joint meeting held between the governments of Catalonia and Aragón Monday, no agreement was in place.  This will be a major blow for the Spanish bid.

The COE remains hopeful that it can reorganize plans and continue to pursue a bid under a different format.

“The Spanish Olympic Committee, through its President, Alejandro Blanco, and with the support of the Government of Spain, expresses its decision to continue its work in order to present a technically unbeatable project, sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms, which contributes to the regeneration of the host territory, and that, at the same time, responds to the requirements and regulations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), for which it will continue evaluating the best options, in order to be able to materialize the presentation of said candidacy,” the COE wrote in a statement Monday.

Blanco has hinted that the COE could move forward partnering only with the Catalan regional government by proposing most events in the Barcelona region.  Some snow and sliding events could be held in other parts of the Alps and in Sarajevo.

Representative of the two governments involved in the bid that had originally considered events to be spread throughout Catalonia, Aragón and the Pyrenees have been at odds for several months.  Aragón officials have claimed that the region would be not getting its fair share of marquee events should the Games be hosted in Spain.  At one point last month they boycotted a technical meeting that was arranged to finalize plans.

Leaders from Catalonia have said that they had already adjusted plans to be more inclusive of Aragón, and local reports suggest that it was the Aragón delegates who refused to sign the tabled agreement Monday.

Monday’s meeting was considered the final chance for the two sides to reconcile their differences.  IOC President Thomas Bach is due to arrive in Spanish capital Madrid on June 1 on unrelated business, but is expected to meet with the IOC.

Without concrete plans, Spain will have to move very quickly if it hopes to stay in the race for 2030.  Rival bids from Salt Lake City and Vancouver have already received technical visits from the IOC in order to optimize their projects and Sapporo will host the same IOC team later this month.  Spain was forced to cancel its planned visit this month due to the ongoing internal dispute.

A binding referendum has already been planned for affected parts of Spain on July 24, and the COE had hoped to publish project details to be considered by the public ahead of the vote.

Last week IOC officials hinted that they could choose one or more preferred candidates in December this year after spending the summer and fall examining the four projects already involved in its ‘continuous dialogue’ process.  A winner could be elected at the IOC’s all-member’s Session May 30, 2023 in Mumbai, India.

Spain failed four previous bids to host the Winter Games with Jaca proposed for 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014.

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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