Spanish Olympic Committee opens door to delaying candidacy till 2034

Catalan Government replies it is only considering hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics

3 min
The president of the COE, Alejandro Blanco, in an archive image

BarcelonaA bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics? Until now, all the parties, especially the Generalitat, the Aragonese government and the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), were working with the goal of hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics, but Aragon's reluctance – which has already led the Catalan government to postpone the consultation on the bid – has caused delays, to the point that this Friday the COE has opened the door for the first time to presenting a candidacy for the 2034 Winter Olympics instead. COE president Alejandro Blanco also warned that if a "presentable" project is not achieved before April or May 2023, when the call ends, the candidacy will have to wait until the next Olympics. The Catalan Government's response has been immediate and Presidency councillor Laura Vilagrà has affirmed that they do not consider "any other scenario" than 2030: "We can make it", she said. All this happened two days after the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, visited Madrid

In fact, Bach's visit has been key for the COE now to consider postponing the candidacy. Blanco admitted that they had planned to take advantage of his visit to the Spanish capital to present the project, but it could not be so. This, said Blanco, has already upset the time frame. However, Blanco said that he will make "a last attempt" to reach an agreement for a joint candidacy between Aragon and Catalonia. This is, for the COE, "the first option" and Blanco said he will try to achieve it "until the end". If the negotiation ends up failing, as he did previously, Blanco has not ruled out a solo candidacy.

Blanco has not refrained from criticising the president of Aragón, Javier Lambán, regretting that the candidacy has been "politicised": "It is impossible to understand what is happening rationally. To turn this into a political commissar's debate, on constitutionalists and nationalists, seems to me that it is beyond everything a sporting candidacy is", he said. And, in this sense, he has accused Lambán of being to blame for the deadlock. "I have never argued with Lambán, I have had an extraordinary relationship with him until he stopped talking to me. I can look everyone in the eye, nothing has changed," explained Blanco. Lambán, however, far from identifying himself with Blanco's story, this Friday he wanted to emphasise his "willingness to dialogue". From Jaca, one of the cities that would host the Olympic Games with a shared candidacy, he said that "he is not throwing in the towel" on the possibility that the project will finally be a joint one. For it to be so, he has defended, once again, that there has to be "balance" between Catalonia and Aragon.

The president of Aragón, Javier Lambán, with the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco.

A venue in Sarajevo

Whether jointly with Aragon or alone, the bid will most likely travel beyond Catalan borders. One of the probable venues for hosting the bobsleigh and luge competitions is Sarajevo, which was confirmed this Friday by Catalan Foreign Affairs minister Victòria Alsina. In a visit to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alsina said that she believes it is "appropriate" that Sarajevo hosts some of the Winter Olympics events in order to avoid building infrastructures that could not be "used in the future". "The Government supports incorporating Sarajevo to this candidacy, even though the final decision is not ours," Alsina said after meeting the Prime Minister of Sarajevo, Edin Forto. In fact, Forto traveled to Catalonia a month ago to defend being part of the 2030 Olympic Games.

Catalan president Pere Aragonès with the prime minister of Sarajevo, Edin Forto