Winter Games
Politics 23/06/2022

Aragonese president feels insulted and claims to be the only one who sought an agreement

Spanish sports minister distances himself from the process and recalls that candidacies are picked by the Olympic Committee

2 min
The President of Aragon, Javier Lambán

BarcelonaThe Generalitat, the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) and even the Spanish government (although never in public) blame the president of Aragón, Javier Lambán, for the failure of the bid tho host the 2030 Winter Olympics. But Lambán is not willing to let criticism go unanswered and has tried to impose his own narrative, which clashes with the one defended by all other players involved in the negotiation. "For defending the interest of Aragon, I am receiving an avalanche of insults and disqualifications from the president of the COE and the independence movement," he tweeted this Wednesday morning, the day after COE president Alejandro Blanco put an end to the joint candidacy. Lambán then went on to put out a completely different version of events to everybody else's: "The truth is that the government of Aragon is the only one that sought an agreement until the last moment and will continue to do so for 2034".

When he speaks of 2034 he does so because the Aragonese government has already explained that it is working on a candidacy centred around Jaca, which it has already tried unsuccessfully on four occasions in recent decades. What does not seem likely is that, after the experience of recent months, the Generalitat will agree to share the project with Aragon, at least if Lambán remains president.

In fact, the Government insists that a Catalan bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics is still possible, even though the COE has repeated both in public and in private that this is an option that will not be taken into account. COE sources believe the Generalitat is in denial. This Tuesday at a press conference, the Catalan Government spokeswoman, Patrícia Plaja, insisted on 2030 after Blanco had met with the Catalan Presidency minister Laura Vilagrà on Monday to make it clear that the only option would be 2034.

The role of the Spanish Olympic Committee

Alejandro Blanco stressed at Tuesday's press conference that the role of the COE is to present the Olympic candidacies, but that first there needs to be a political agreement between governments. "We have destroyed this bid at home," he said, and regretted that it could not even be presented before the International Olympic Committee. In the negotiations, in addition to the COE, the Generalitat and the Aragonese government, the Spanish government was also represented, which on Wednesday, through Minister of Sports Miquel Iceta reacted to the failure of the joint bid calling it a "lost opportunity".

However, Iceta preferred not to go beyond regrets. "It is not up to me to establish any kind of responsibility or reproach towards anyone," he said, and highlighted the "good work" of the COE, which has the power to decide – and not the Spanish government – whether or not to present a candidacy. "The obligation of the Spanish government is to give institutional and financial backing to the candidacy, which did exist in this case," he stressed. The Spanish employers' association (CEOE) has also regretted the situation: "It is a real loss for Spain's image and also for economic opportunities in Catalonia and Aragon," said its president, Antonio Garamendi, during the organisation's general assembly.

The Catalon government believes that, apart from Lambán, the Spanish government has not fulfilled what was expected of it and "has given in to blackmail" from Aragón. It was precisely the Spanish government that asked Lambán to get involved in a joint candidacy with Catalonia, and when things started to get complicated, it has not had enough strength to make him desist from his position.

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