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There will be no Spanish candidacy for the Winter Olympics: “We have destroyed it at home”

There will be no Spanish candidacy for the 2030 Winter Games: the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) has informed this Tuesday of its withdrawal, before the impossibility of putting Aragon and Catalonia in agreement to present a joint project around the territory of the Pyrenees.

The president of the COE, Alexander White, has confirmed in a public appearance that it will not take the candidacy to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to assess it as a possible venue for the Games. “We are not in a position to present an Olympic project,” Blanco told the IOC, with whom he wishes to “continue working with a view to future projects.”

The president of the COE explained that a technical agreement was easily reached with Catalonia and Aragon for the distribution of venues. “But at the moment in which the political representatives enter there is no agreement and there is no progress,” he said. “This candidacy we have destroyed it at home“, lamented Blanco, convinced that this was “the great opportunity for the expansion of winter sports in Spain”.

The president points directly to “the refusal of the government of Aragon to respect the technical agreement.” The COE, solely responsible for the presentation of a candidacy, decided that it should involve both Catalonia and Aragon and, finding that this could not be the case, chose not to accept a Catalan-only project, as requested by the Catalan Generalitat until a few hours before the withdrawal announcement. “The candidacy that was presented to the IOC endorsed by the Government of Spain was the joint one,” the president stressed.

End of a project of more than two years

The step taken this Tuesday by the COE puts an end to a project that was born more than two years ago, which took a boost that seemed definitive in December 2021, when its technical foundations were laid, and which lost strength in recent weeks, due to discrepancies over the distribution of sports venues between the two autonomous communities involved. “If what we are going to present to the world are differences, we cannot continue,” added the president of the COE, who said that those responsible for this withdrawal “are clear”, asked about the position of the Aragonese president, Javier Lamban.

If any of the territories interested in the Games wishes to present a project for the future, “when it is ready, it will be discussed with the IOC,” said Blanco, who appeared at a press conference accompanied by his Executive Committee.

Political disagreements put an end to a project that would have been the fifth attempt to take the Games for the first time to one of Europe’s great mountain ranges, the Pyrenees. The Aragonese town of Pony it was a contender for the 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014 Games. Another project that was conceived with Zaragoza as a candidate for the 2022 Games, and which would have also included Jaca, was aborted due to lack of political support.

Behind the interest shown since 2018 by Barcelona for organizing a Winter Games, with the name of the city as an Olympic claim and with the Pyrenees as the center of the snow tests, the IOC, whose technicians came to inspect the possible venues, confirmed in January 2020 that Barcelona-Pyrenees, the japanese Sapporo and the American Salt Lake City They were the three candidatures that had expressed their desire to organize the Games in 2030, 2034 or 2038. From the beginning, the COE tried to develop the project with 2030 as a goal and jointly between Catalonia and Aragon.

Negotiations resumed after the pandemic

Behind the parenthesis imposed by the pandemicon December 21, 2021, the COE met for the first time what was called “Technical Commission of the candidacy for the 2030 Pirineus-Barcelona-Zaragoza Winter Games”, with representatives of the COE, the CSD and the Catalan governments and Aragonese.

Alejandro Blanco reviewed this Tuesday the eleven meetings held by the parties involved, first the technicians, then the politicians. The former “reached an agreement to distribute the venues that were communicated to the governments.” Aragón had 54 events and Catalonia 42, including alpine skiing, which would later be the reason for the break.

Catalonia would organize alpine, artistic and mountain skiing, snowboarding and ice hockey at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona and in Aragon biathlon, cross-country skiing, figure skating, speed skating and curling would take place. “Three days after submitting that proposal, Javier Lambán told me that he was not in agreement. When the snow proposal was made by the Aragón technicians,” Blanco said. And in the following meetings there was no agreement to modify it.

Catalonia then proposed to pass five tests from the Arán Valley to Cerler, those of acrobatic skiing. In exchange, five skating tests would go to Catalonia. This change was not accepted. Since then, the positions, far from getting closer, moved away more and more, until falling into personal disqualifications, with the president of the COE as the target of the anger of the Aragonese executive. “There have been differences, debates, attacks… everything that is not the Olympic Movement,” Blanco said sadly.

Despite this rarefied atmosphere around the candidacy, during the visit to Madrid two weeks ago by the president of the IOC to visit a refugee center, sources from the organization told EFE that the Pyrenean project, if presented, had options to take over the headquarters .

After the Tokyo 2020 Gamesit is considered that little time has passed to repeat again with Japan as an organizing partner and the other candidates for 2030 that are now being talked about, Salt Lake City and Canada’s Vancouver, would be geographically and temporarily very close to the Los Angeles Games 2028, mentioned the same sources.

The goodbye of the Spanish candidate implies that the 2030 Games will go away from Europe, since the three potential candidates are Sapporo (Japan), Salt Lake City (USA) and Vancouver (Canada). The 2026 edition will be held in Milan-Cortina (Italy), in the Alps, the mountain range that has organized the most editions, eleven. The Pyrenees, on the other hand, have not yet been released.

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