Turbulence surrounds Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Winter Olympics Bid as IOC VP calls for unanimity

Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) member and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch Friday called for “unanimity” in supporting his nation’s Pyrenees-Barcelona Olympic Winter Games bid.

Samaranch made his comments on Catalan’s public broadcaster TV3 following the release of bid opposition group Stop JJOO’s (Stop the Olympic Games) manifesto calling for the end of the project.

Samaranch said he sees Catalans avoiding such large projects, and the regional government reluctant to back the bid, but he urges that the Games would be beneficial to the region.  Last month he said that new IOC expectations underline the use of existing facilities and restrictions on infrastructure built for only for the Games.

He said that “there is no need for airports or roads or trains, nothing,” and further insisted that any investments made would be to the benefit of the long term needs in the community.

Stop JJOO’s manifesto released Wednesday has been endorsed by dozens of prominent local citizens who claim a Winter Games in 2030 would ignore the climate crisis and steer the region into an unsustainable socio-economic model that is detrimental to young people and the future of the region.

According to the group, by 2030 climate change will mean most of the required competition snow will have to be manufactured and investments made to facilities will be squandered as future winter sport tourism disappears.  They claim that preparations for the Games will further push the region into a tourism-based economy that has little to offer but low paying jobs for young local citizens.

Those jobs, and the regional economy, will then be danger after the Games.

“The economic model based on tourism is also causing a big housing problem,” Bernat Lavaquiol, spokesperson for Stop JJOO told GamesBids.com in September.

“Young people or new families have a hard time finding a house, prices had rapidly increased and touristic rental is capturing all the available houses.”

Lavaquiol said this model driving young people out of the region.

In 2019 the Catalan government approved a referendum over the bid but the vote has yet to be scheduled.  Meanwhile, the IOC is in ongoing discussions with the Pyrenees-Barcelona bid among rivals Salt Lake City, Sapporo, Vancouver and Ukraine and a preferred candidate to host could be named at any time.

Stop JJOO representatives are frustrated that much of these discussions are happening in private and without transparency or a set timetable.

The next Winter Games open in Beijing in February.  In 2026 the event will be held jointly by Milan and Cortina in Italy.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com 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.