Publisher | Last call for the Winter Games

The disagreements between Catalonia and Aragon threaten to ruin the joint bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics. The positions are so far apart that both autonomous communities are already considering presenting candidates separately. A bad idea, because the only chance for the candidacy to succeed is based on there being a single candidate, leaving behind the political differences that have led to the breakup.

It is known the reticence of International Olympic Committee (IOC) to grant the organization of the Games to countries in which there is no political unity and in which the candidacy does not have the endorsement of all the governments involved, in this case the central government and the two regional governments. Last week, the IOC already warned that political differences made the candidacy of the Pyrenees “lose credibility”which already has the difficult challenge of demonstrating that it can adapt both to local climatic conditions and to the demanding sustainability criteria set by the IOC.

Unity is essential because competition is powerful. Two American cities, Salt Lake City (United States) and vancouver (Canada), and a Japanese (Sapporo) would compete with the Spanish candidacy. The three have the advantage of experience because they have organized the Winter Olympics before, but they also have the disadvantage of repeating their candidacy, while the Pyrenees have never won a Winter Games before, despite the fact that the Aragonese town of Jaca has tried, without success, on four occasions (1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014).

It must be remembered that an agreement had already been reached (theoretically technical, although with a clear intention of political balance) on the composition of the candidacy, signed by all the parties involved (Central Government, Government of Aragon, Spanish Olympic Committee -COE- and Generalitat), but after the Government chaired by Javier Lambán dropped out of the pact arguing that Aragón felt prejudiced in the distribution of evidence. The agreement awarded alpine skiing, snowboarding, freestyle and mountain skiing to the Catalan Pyrenees, while cross-country skiing and biathlon went to the Aragonese Pyrenees. Aragón also assumed curling (in Jaca), ice skating and speed tests, while Barcelona would host ice hockey. The main problem seems to be alpine skiing and that is why Aragon has proposed the alternative of dividing the events by sex, that is, if the men’s alpine skiing was held in Catalonia, the women’s had to go to Aragon. An exchange of tests (the ‘freestyle’ in Aragon and part of figure skating in Barcelona) has also been rejected by Aragon.

The COE admits that in the last stage of the negotiations, Catalonia has acted with greater flexibility, but the truth is that the blockade remains and the COE has already warned that there is either a joint candidacy or there is no candidacy. For this reason, despite the threats by both parties to appear alone, the only solution is to rush the negotiations to the end and rebuild the unity of the candidacy. The COE has set the deadline for nine days, before the IOC president, Thomas Bach, visits Barcelona on June 1. In those nine days, an agreement must be reached so that the Pyrenees have the possibility of hosting the Winter Olympics for the first time.

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