Catalan president Pere Aragonès has taken an important first step to make it possible for Catalonia, through the Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 candidature, to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2030, as Catalunya Ràdio has reported. Aragonès sent a brief letter to the attention of Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, officially stating the interest of the Catalan government in hosting the Olympics in 2030, 38 years after the memorable summer Olympic Games that the Catalan capital organized in 1992.
As the letter explains, the Catalan government sees the event as an opportunity which must go hand in hand with "social and territorial consensus" and sustainability policies. In addition, Aragonés argues that the organization of these Winter Games must be used to "develop the commitments of the United Nations' Agenda 2030." It will also be necessary to know the presence of Jaca, the gateway mountain town in neighbouring Aragon that expressed interest in the 1998 Winter Games and with whom the Catalan government reached an agreement to work jointly.
The need to consult the locals
However, before continuing negotiations with the Spanish and the International Olympic Committee, the government of the Generalitat will have to find out, through a consultation, whether the people of the Catalan Pyrenees are in favour or against the candidacy - as the ERC and CUP parties agreed, in one of the pacts which brought the current government to power. So, although the first step has been taken, there is still a mountain to climb before a possible Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Winter Games becomes a reality.
In fact, the idea of a second Catalan Olympic bid being made is not new. Already in 2010, under Barcelona mayor Jordi Hereu (Socialists), there was talk of the idea, but it failed to find acceptance and went no further.
Trias wanted the Games, Colau doubted
With the entry of Convergència mayor Xavier Trias, a possible candidacy for 2026 returned to the agenda. A candidacy that was put "on ice" by the current Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, when she came to power in 2015. But now, the new context of dialogue between the Spanish state and the Catalan government opens the door for a 2030 candidacy. In addition, the concept has the business support that at times it lacked.
Although there is no exact date for submitting the candidature to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Spanish government should not take long. In fact, the ideal time to do so would be before the Tokyo Games begin - in just seven days' time, on July 23rd. If not done before the Games begin, it would probably be left until after Tokyo's closing ceremony, on August 8th.
The IOC naturally requests that bid presentations be made as soon as possible. The announcement of the chosen city is due to be made in 2023 in Mumbai, India, seven years before the Games.
Some rival bids are already known
With this official announcement from the Catalan government, it is time to start asking who the possible rivals of a Pyrenees-Barcelona bid would be. There is still time for new candidates to appear, but some have already gone public, such as Salt Lake City in the United States and Sapporo in Japan.
Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Games, and wants to repeat in 2030, a proposition supported by US Olympic Committee which chose the Utah state capital ahead of Denver and Reno, as the US hope. But it is not guaranteed that the city will mount its challenge for the 2030 Games. Sapporo's firm candidacy has meant that Salt Lake City is inclined to focus its efforts on the next date, in 2034.
The Olympic race has already begun. Vancouver is also there, already an official candidate. In addition, there has been talk of a possible Eastern European candidacy led by the city of Lviv, in the Ukraine, and supported by Poland and Latvia, as well as a bid from Quebec.