Catalan Winter Olympics: a viable option

The Catalan government is preparing a bid to host the 2030 Games at Catalonia’s Pyrenean ski resorts

Following several unsuccessful attempts, it now looks possible. The bid for the Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Winter Olympics is making headway under the leadership of the Catalan government, and in particular Gerard Figueras, Secretary General of Sport and Physical Activity, who has intimated there are signs of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) being in favour of the Catalan bid.

It faces stiff competition: Salt Lake City in the United States, and Sapporo in Japan, have stated their intention to bid. In order to award utmost importance to its bid, the Catalan government approved a preparation programme in March, which is aimed at coordinating political initiative in the local region. Furthermore, a public event was held in September to raise awareness of the support that cultural, sports and economic organisations are lending to the bid. Of particular note was the participation of Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of FC Barcelona, who offered the Camp Nou stadium for the opening and closing celebrations. Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), was also on-hand, given that one point that the Catalan bid still needs to work on is political and institutional consensus. Such a consensus is seen as one of the main obstacles to overcome due to the disagreement between the Catalan and central governments over the pro-independence movement.

In addition to the above, the role of Barcelona City Council also requires clarification. The previous attempt to formalise a bid failed when Mayor Ada Colau announced its withdrawal from the process in 2015.

However, there can be no doubt that the backbone of the Catalan proposal must be sustainability and respect for the natural environment. In respect of this, a story is being built around what the 2030 Winter Olympics will look like if they take place in this country. This falls into line with the IOC’s new agenda: namely, backing away from large infrastructures that have a huge environmental impact and are left unused once the athletes have left.

Figueras stated that Catalonia is committed to a smart Olympic Games, in which sport is not the ultimate goal, but is placed at the service of the local region. Large-scale investments are therefore not expected: “We are ready”, are the most repeated words by the Catalan winter resorts. At the inauguration of the 2019-20 snow season on November 12 in Barcelona, government spokeswoman Meritxell Budó highlighted the showcase the Olympic Games represent: “They must be the catalyst and engine for redesigning a 21st-century mountain policy”. The goal is for this sporting event to help generate wealth and raise awareness of the local region.


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