Winter Games

Olympic Committee blames Aragonese president for Olympic bid failure

Spanish Olympic Committee makes the withdrawal of the bid official and opens the door to presenting projects for 2034

3 min
COE President, Alejandro Blanco, during the press conference

MadridThe Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) has met this Tuesday to formally announce the withdrawal of the Catalan-Aragonese bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics. "The joint candidacy between Aragon and Catalonia does not exist, and cannot be materialised," said COE president Alejandro Blanco. Blanco blamed Aragonese president Javier Lambán for the failure and has opened the door to a solo Catalan candidacy for 2034.

Blanco took his time explaining all the details of the negotiations to make it clear that it is Lambán who is responsible, since he is the one who backed out of the technical agreement approved by the organising committee and, above all, who took the debate to the field of "politics". "If in the end we turn an integrating project into a question of unionists vs nationalists, it shows that we do not understand what the Olympic movement is about. When we leave the Olympic charter and move on to politics there is no way forward, and, therefore, this is the solution we have adopted", he explained. Blanco was particularly disappointed and hurt because the proposal, he said, "came from civil society and not from politics, and was designed to unite efforts, to integrate and not to divide".

In his presentation, Blanco has been particularly critical of the information spread by the Aragonese government about the negotiations, and denounced that in some cases "lies" have been leaked. "This candidacy has been destroyed from within," he said, and then added that even in the event that there were an agreement at the highest political level between Catalonia and Aragon, it would be very difficult for the bid to succeed because of the bad image given to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Blanco has underlined that Catalonia made a proposal to move five snow events to Cerler so that all three Aragonese valleys had events, but Aragón rejected it. Finally, in the last meeting, Aragon made a proposal in which some sports were separated by gender, but here it was Catalonia that said no. "Without a political agreement it can't go ahead. It did not work. We admit that it has not worked. And let's hope that people come to their senses," he lamented.

On the possibility of presenting a solo Catalan bid for 2034, Blanco said that the COE will be receptive to any project that is "sustainable, beneficial for the territory and for Spain". However, he considers that the joint candidacy was unbeatable because of the message that it gave, although he acknowledged that from a technical point of view it was "improvable". In this sense, he highlighted a joint statement with the IOC in which the latter commits to continue working with Spain so that in the future it can opt to host the Winter Olympic Games.

Criticism from the Catalan Government

The hangover from the failure of the joint bid for the Winter Olympics will be long. This Tuesday the Catalan government has again regretted the decision by the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) to discard the project and criticised the Spanish and Aragonese governments: "Anti-Catalanism has won," said Plaja. She reproached Pedro Sánchez's government for having "allowed [Aragonese president] Lambán to be out of order", and said he was "the real stumbling block" for there to be an agreement. "The project was a winning one but Lambán did not want to team up with Catalonia", she concluded. The Generalitat maintains that it will try to convince the COE to present a solo candidacy, but the COE has been categorical in its rejection: "The candidacy for 2030 was the joint bid, and there is no room for any other," concluded Blanco.