Read in Catalan

The Pyrenees-Barcelona bid for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games was already international, with conversations well underway with Andorra and the possibility of some events taking place at ski stations in France too. Now, the candidacy could enjoy an unexpected ally: Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This Friday, Catalan foreign minister, Alfred Bosch, at the end of a three-day visit to the Balkans, met with the prime minister of Sarajevo Canton, Edin Forto, to set up the foundations for a potential collaboration with the city.

"There's a very strong empathy and an eagerness to strengthen a solidarity and a connection which has always existed," said Bosch. According to a press statement by the Catalan government, the two executives want to "strengthen the ties and establish collaborations in the fields of sport, tourism and cultural exchange".

If its candidacy is successful, Barcelona would be one of the first cities to hold both a summer and winter Olympics, after the 1992 Summer Games. In this it would follow Beijing (2008/2022) and potentially Stockholm, if it wins the 2026 Games in the IOC vote next month. Bids for both the 2022 and 2026 Winter Games were considered by Barcelona, but both projects were eventually shelved. Sarajevo, meanwhile, held the 1984 Winter Games when it was still part of Yugoslavia. Whilst all previous summer and winter Olympics may have had single host cities with all venues within the same country, Football World Cups have had successful international candidacies: South Korea and Japan in 2002 and Canada, Mexico and the US in 2026.

Nothing decided yet

As of yet, however, no firm agreements have been reached. "Many technical studies and conversations are needed, at an international level too. For the moment, what we've got is the wish to collaborate between two cities which have held Olympics and which see the possibility of doing so on an even great scale and more together. We're establishing the framework of cooperation, the specifics will come later," the Catalan minister said.

Bosch also wanted to highlight Forto's "sensitivity" towards the political situation in Catalonia. "Fortunately, it's nothing like what happened in Bosnia a few years ago," he said.