Spain will not be presenting a bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics in the Pyrenees due to political differences between the regional governments of Catalonia and Aragon, Spain’s Olympic Committee (COE) president Alejandro Blanco confirmed on Tuesday.
The idea of hosting the Olympics had divided public opinion in the Spanish regions, and activists had also warned that staging the Games could have a negative impact on the Pyrenees due to climate change.
‘We had other brilliant candidacies (for the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics) that didn’t go ahead because we were competing with very strong rival cities. But this one we have destroyed ourselves at our own home,’ Blanco told a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
‘There was no other way out than withdrawing our bid. We cannot spend months and months and months with the differences that there were,’ he said. ‘We were transforming an integrating project into a war between constitutionalists and [those who support] independence, the Olympic spirit is not about that.’
On 28 March, the COE had originally announced a deal between Catalonia and Aragón to bid for the 2030 Games. That agreement proposed that Catalonia would host alpine skiing, downhill and slalom, freestyle, snowboarding, as well as ice hockey played in Barcelona. Meanwhile, Aragón was proposed to host the biathlon, cross-country skiing, figure skating and speed skating.
The Catalan government then confirmed its support for the agreement, but Aragón chose not to. The day after the COE announcement, the president of Aragón, Javier Lambán, openly rejected it and said he would counter with a ‘fair and more balanced’ proposal.
On 24 May, the COE announced that ‘after 11 meetings’, the regional governments of Catalonia and Aragón had been unable to reach an agreement on a bid to host the Olympics, but that they were still trying to see if there was a way forward.
The Catalan government had said it would hold a referendum in the region about the plans. In the past, referendums have killed off potential bids from several countries.
Catalonia had reportedly then held ‘informal’ talks with the COE about bidding to host the games only in the Catalan Pyrenees, but any likelihood of this would now be for 2034 and no longer 2030.
The civil society group ‘Stop JJOO’ (Stop Olympic Games) has already announced they will fight against any bid to host the 2030, 2034, or 2038 Olympic Games.
‘We won,’ they shared on social media before questioning the amount of taxpayers’ money ‘thrown into the bin’ to push forward the bid.
Japan’s Saporro is considered the favourite to stage the Olympics, with former Winter Games hosts Vancouver in Canada and Salt Lake City in the United States, also reportedly interested.