Three out of four Pyrenees residents in favor of 2030 Winter Olympics, says poll

Counties where Games could take place to vote on event in referendum on July 24

Baqueira Beret ski station (by Baqueira Beret)
Baqueira Beret ski station (by Baqueira Beret) / Cillian Shields, Guifré Jordan, and Lorcan Doherty

ACN | Barcelona

May 5, 2022 08:06 PM

Three out of four Pyrenees residents are in favor of holding the 2030 Winter Olympics, according to a government-funded survey. This includes those who live in Berguedà, Solsonès, and Ripollès counties, where competitions would not be held but which could be involved indirectly. 

On July 24, residents of the Alt Pirineu and Aran area of the Western Catalan Pyrenees will vote in a referendum on whether to greenlight a potential bid to host the Games.

In the neighboring Berguedà, Solsonès, and Ripollès counties, the Catalan government will organize another vote on the same date to decide if residents want to be "involved" in the Olympics in other ways, such as by hosting training sessions. 

Authorities announced on Thursday that 74.2% of residents are in favor of participating in the 2030 games if selected by the International Olympic Committee.

The survey was carried out from December 9 to 20, 2021 among 1,500 people. When authorities only take into account responses from the area where the Games could end up happening, the overall result of those in favor of them increases to 74.6%.

The Catalan presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, appeared before the Parliament’s Institutional Affairs Committee to present the "almost identical" results in all counties, she said.

The survey’s validity had been questioned in the past by opposition parties. 

"They were wrong in saying that the executive was manipulating figures," she added, as all results can be reviewed. 

The minister considers the 2030 Winter Olympic Games to be a "historical opportunity" as no one "has ever talked this much about the needs and challenges of the Pyrenees," she explained to the committee.  

However, the Games have vocal detractors, who fear the effects they could have on mass tourism and the environment. The Stop JJOO platform has also denounced that the government has not changed its arguments, which they say are "the same as last year."

To prevent the bid to host the competition from moving forward, Stop JJOO has urged people to protest on May 15 in the northern city of Puigcerdà. 

Opposition to the Games does not only come from civil society groups, but also from political parties, such as the far-left CUP. Dolors Sabater considers the competition to be “outrageous” for the Pyrenees, arguing that the government is only saying "propaganda to sell headlines and opacity by not explaining the project," she added.   

On the other hand, Ciudadanos MP, Joan García questioned the executive’s decisions. "The 1992 Olympic Games consensus that we had at the time, is no longer real," he said. 

Aragon-Catalonia dispute

After much deliberation over where each sports event should take place, on March 28 the COE, the Spanish Olympics Committee, announced a deal between Catalonia and the neighboring territory of Aragon to bid for the 2030 Games.

The Catalan government then confirmed its support for the agreement, but Aragon failed to do so. The day after the COE announcement, the president of Aragon, Socialist Javier Lambán, openly rejected it and said he would counter with a "fair and more balanced" proposal. 

Catalonia, however, maintains that the issue is closed, and has even suggested there could be electoral interests behind Lambán's apparent u-turn, while the COE stated on April 1 that it would move forward with what it described as the "agreed upon" deal. 

Filling the Sink

Listen to the Filling the Sink podcast episode released on February 5 to learn more about the contentious 2030 Winter Olympics candidacy.