Barcelona to celebrate 30th anniversary of 1992 Olympic Games by honoring volunteers

Commemoration to take place in city hall with "special importance" given to those who helped during the event

Cauldron used in Barcelona's Paralympic Games, in 1992 (by ACN)
Cauldron used in Barcelona's Paralympic Games, in 1992 (by ACN) / ACN / Marina Force

ACN | Barcelona

July 13, 2022 11:19 AM

Barcelona is ready to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1992 Olympic Games it hosted with an event honoring the volunteers who helped out.

A "special importance" will be given to these helpers at the commemorative event the city council will hold on July 21, as Barcelona mayor Ada Colau told the Catalan News Agency (ACN).

The celebration will take place in the council's Saló de Cent hall, one of the most inconic sites in the building located at Plaça Sant Jaume square. Volunteers will be recognized as "one of the emblems of how the city embodied the Olympic Games and showed the best of Barcelona," Colau said. 

This will not be the first time the Catalan capital commemorates the 1992 Olympic: In 2017, coinciding with the 25th anniversary, Pasqual Maragall, who was the mayor at the time of the games, oversaw a "very beautiful and emotional" celebration, Ada Colau recalled. 

1992 Olympic Games

The inauguration ceremony started with Spanish archer Antonio Rebollo famously lighting the Olympic flame with an arrow that was on fire. However, it all began a bit earlier than that.

The famous ‘à la ville de… Barcelona’, pronounced by the then IOC International Olympic Committee President Joan Antoni Samaranch, on October 17, 1986 in the Swiss city of Lausanne, was the starting point. 

The city committed on that day to hold the event five years and nine months later, in summer 1992. Mayors Narcís Serra, and above all Pasqual Maragall, were the main organizers at a political level, but those who took charge of the actual transformation are the architects, and one of them, in particular, stands out: Oriol Bohigas, the man responsible for urban planning in the local council in the 1980s.

Bohigas, who passed away on December 1, 2021, remembered to Catalan News about the most unique transformation ahead of the Olympics, the beaches.

“The sea was cut off from the people; Barcelona had no beaches and nowadays it is the city with the biggest and best-looked after beaches in the Mediterranean,” he claimed in an interview with this media outlet.

New Olympic mascot

Cobi was Barcelona’s 1992 Olympic Games mascot, designed by illustrator Javier Mariscal, and in December 2021, he released a new Cobi, in this case, a "grown-up" one, Mariscal said.

The Valencian artist reimagined his Olympic mascot for a special edition of 'Condé Nast Traveler' magazine.

The 2022 version wears glasses, has a beard that resembles the one of a 30-year-old adult, a mobile phone and is, as opposed to the original, full of color.

2030 Winter Olympics bid

Barcelona could have seen its goal of hosting two different Olympic Games competitions in less than 50 years, as authorities pushed to host the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. However, the bid did not end up happening because of disagreements between the Catalan government and officials of the neighboring region of Aragon.

The candidacy was intended to be a joint bid between both Spanish territories with sports competitions in Barcelona, but also in the Catalan and Aragonese Pyrenees and the Aragon capital, Zaragoza. 

In fact, in the Pyrenees, three out of four residents were in favor of holding the sports competition, according to a government-funded survey. This included those who live in Berguedà, Solsonès, and Ripollès counties, where competitions would not be held but which could be involved indirectly. 

However, after months of negotiations between the Catalan government, the Spanish executive, the Spanish Olympic Committee, and the Aragonese cabinet, the neighboring region of Catalonia, authorities ruled out a joint candidacy to bid on hosting the games.

The lack of consensus between the COE and Catalan and Aragonese authorities over the distribution of competitions had frustrated the project, officials said on June 20.

Despite the political disagreement, some residents were already against hosting the games in the first place. Therefore, they all united efforts in the Plataforma Stop JJOO, as they considered that the Olympics were "not sustainable." 

Due to the lack of consensus in the territory, the Catalan government organized a referendum to ask residents whether they should host the games or not. The vote was postponed when the agreement reached between Aragon and Catalonia was later broken.

While Stop JJOO celebrated the decision to not bid on hosting the games, local authorities considered it a "lost opportunity."