'Catalonia is ready to have Olympics': Minister meets IOC president

Catalan presidency minister Laura Vilagrà has brief exchange with Thomas Bach at Spanish Olympic Committee HQ

Catalan presidency minister Laura Vilagrà meets IOC president Thomas Bach in Madrid, (Spanish Olympic Committe / Nacho Casares)
Catalan presidency minister Laura Vilagrà meets IOC president Thomas Bach in Madrid, (Spanish Olympic Committe / Nacho Casares) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

June 1, 2022 06:41 PM

Catalonia's presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, met the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, at an event on Wednesday in Madrid on the role sport can play in welcoming refugees.

Vilagrà and Bach greeted each other at the end of the event at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) and conversed informally for a few minutes.

The aim was to make it known that "Catalonia is ready to have the Winter Olympics, with a competitive and winning proposal," Vilagrà told the media later.

"We are here," Vilagrà said, reiterating that Catalonia is willing to "collaborate" with the neighboring region of Aragon, but that it is willing to go it alone with a bid if there is no agreement.

"We came so that they could meet us and get to know about Catalonia's proposal directly." The government is "interested in talking informally about the possibility of a bid" with the IOC, Vilagrà explained.

The minister also spoke with the IOC vice president, the Catalan Joan Antoni Samaranch Salisachs.

Catalan-Aragon bid controversy

The Spanish Olympic chief Alejandro Blanco refused to be drawn on the recent controversy surrounding Catalonia and Aragon's joint bid of for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. "We talked about refugees," the COE president said of his meeting with Bach.

The COE suggested on Tuesday that one of either Catalonia or Aragon could bid alone for the games if a joint deal cannot be reached, or that two separate bids could even be put forward for the IOC's consideration.

The Aragonese government has asked Blanco, to take a "step back" to allow an agreement to be reached and accused him of being a "political commissar" for Catalonia.

Vilagrà avoided wading into the controversy on Wednesday, saying she would not respond to statements made about the bid "in political terms."

"It has to be focused on sporting issues and no other criteria," she said.