Spanish Olympic Committee President will not “stop fighting” for a 2030 Winter Olympic bid candidate

Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) president Alejandro Blanco told media at a press conference Wednesday that he will not give up on a 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid.  This vow came despite a collapse of the joint project between Catalonia and Aragón Monday after the two sides failed to reach an agreement over venue distribution.

COE President Alejandro Blanco speaks to the media May 25, 2022 (COE video frame capture)
COE President Alejandro Blanco speaks to the media May 25, 2022 (COE video frame capture)

“We cannot and should not lose our position and prestige before the IOC, we want to organize the Games, we cannot give up on the Games in the Pyrenees,” Blanco said, pleading for stakeholders to pick up the pieces and come to terms before the arrival of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach in Madrid June 1.

“I will resume negotiations with all those who want to participate, and if we are not able to come to an agreement, we will see what we do.

“There is interest in the people of the Aragonese and Catalan Pyrenees and also the cities of Zaragoza and Barcelona. I am not going to stop fighting to get a candidacy.”

Blanco said that the COE tried to form the bid through a democratic and participatory process that leveraged a technical team of 12 people representing the participating regions to develop the best concept and pitch the plan to governments and stakeholders.  The COE President said he could have instead formed an organizing committee to develop the plans without input from the stakeholders but he felt the former strategy was most reasonable.

Instead, the entire process became mired in politics resulting in the collapse of the project.  The main dispute has been the distribution of what are being considered the marquee events, and Aragón officials feel they are being short-changed.  However under proposed plans 54 of the total events would be held in the Aragonese territory and 42 in Catalonia.

“I thought that this debate should be technical, not political,” Blanco said.

Blanco fears precious time has been wasted and rival bids from Vancouver, Sapporo and Salt Lake City are leaving Barcelona behind.

“Everything that has happened harms the candidacy,” he said.

“We have twice canceled visits of the IOC technical team, who have already gone to see the rest of the candidacies, we could not give this image of division.

“It is difficult to reach an agreement but not impossible.”

Blanco has asked regional leaders Pere Aragonès of Catalonia and Javier Lambán of Aragón to speak and resolve their differences in a meeting that has already been requested by Lambán in a letter.

Last week the IOC mapped out a rough unofficial timeline of the remainder of the bid process with much of the technical evaluation occurring this summer and into the fall.  Qualified bids could be identified in December with a winner being named next May.

A binding dual-referendum will be held in affected regions on July 24 but there is currently no plan and no budget in place for voters to consider when they cast a ballot.

But that hasn’t stopped the Catalan government from launching a pro-bid advertising campaign that is reportedly being run across television, radio and social media platforms in the region.  Funded by the Generalitat of Catalonia, the video presents life in the Pyrenees and skiing with the tagline in Catalan “Tornarem a fer història”, or “We will make history again”, a nod to the Barcelona 1992 Summer Games.

The campaign has been met with criticism, with those opposed to it believing the government should be neutral in the process.

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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