Spanish Olympic Committee urges 'unity' between Catalonia and Aragon for 2030 Olympic bid

Counties neighboring Catalan Pyrenees also demand to take part in spring vote over project

The Boí Taüll ski slope in the Catalan Pyrenees (by Anna Berga)
The Boí Taüll ski slope in the Catalan Pyrenees (by Anna Berga) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 26, 2022 10:30 AM

The Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) has urged "unity" between Catalonia and Aragon, the region neighboring Catalonia to the west, in order to present a 2030 Winter Olympics bid together. 

Its president, Alejandro Blanco, said no one region "prevails" over the other in this project. 

On Tuesday, during a joint press conference after a meeting with Aragon's president, Javier Lambán, he said "respect, understanding, and dialogue" are key. 

"We have a chance for Spain to organize the 2030 Olympics, as long as Aragon and Catalonia are working together, led by COE," Lambán said at the same event. 

Indeed, the Aragon leader said a few days ago that "no Games will be held" if both territories are not at the same level in the bid. 

Yet, on Tuesday, the Catalan government's spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, said that "it is Catalonia who has to lead the bid," although she added that the cabinet is "open to collaboration."

Ultimately it is the COE who will put forward any bid before the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

Blanco will meet Catalonia's presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, soon, while the Catalan president Pere Aragonès will meet Lambán this Friday. However, this summit is up in the air as Aragonès is currently under quarantine after being named as a close contact of a Covid positive case. 

Vote to be held in the spring

Yet, this is not the only hurdle in the way of a potential candidacy. Although Aragonès' executive is in favor of launching the project known as 'Barcelona-Pirineus 2030 Winter Olympic bid' in Catalonia, they have put their support on hold pending a vote they have organized in the Pyrenees region

The consultation, to be held in the spring, will be held in the Val d'Aran, Alta Ribagorça, Pallars Sobirà, Pallars Jussà, Alt Urgell, and Cerdanya counties, but others neighboring the mountain range also want to take place in the referendum. 

Local authorities in the counties of Berguedà, Ripollès and Solsonès are lobbying to have their say as well, and request the government to present a formal project before the vote. 

On Tuesday, Plaja responded that the government "will listen to and speak with everyone who is affected," but insisted that those eligible for the vote will only be the counties in the western Catalan Pyrenees. 

74% support in a survey, but significant social lobby against Games

A survey commissioned by the executive last month showed that 74% of those questioned find the possibility of hosting the Games 'interesting' and view the idea positively. A total of 1,506 people took part in the survey, 300 of whom were residents of the Pyrenees and the rest living in other parts of the mountainous region. 

A significant social campaign against hosting the 2030 Winter Olympic Games has arisen over the past year, arguing that the event cannot be sustainable, and has even drawn the support of prominent Catalan mountain trekker Kílian Jornet