SportsFinal stretch without agreement for the 2030 Winter Games

Final stretch without agreement for the 2030 Winter Games



The Catalan-Aragonese candidacy to host the 2030 Winter Olympics is like a roller coaster. The government of Aragon rejected this Friday night through a statement that there is an agreement for the technical project and the distribution of the tests despite the fact that the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) gave in the afternoon for made the pact. The disagreement remains three days from the deadline set by the COE, which wanted to communicate the technical approach of the Olympic initiative on Monday.

The differences reappear three days after the last meeting of the technical commission, made up of representatives of the COE, the regional governments, and the central government; in which the Catalan representatives and the national committee came out with the conviction that the agreement was practically total in the final distribution of sports disciplines: Ice hockey would be held in Barcelona; curling, in Jaca; and the speed and figure skating tests, in Zaragoza. The rest of the disciplines were already distributed: the slopes of La Molina and Masella would host alpine skiing; Baqueira, snowboard and freestyle; and the Aragonese facilities, cross-country skiing.

In any case, Aragón denied an agreement this Friday afternoon through a forceful statement: “There is no guarantee that the candidacy will be raised on equal terms. As long as all the aspects of the candidacy are not clear, Aragon will not give its approval. The mistrust of all the other interlocutors is absolute”. It is the third time in less than a year that the government of Aragon threatens to break the candidacy due to, he understands, the lack of “equality” in the role of the communities. The COE, the Generalitat and the government of Aragon will negotiate this weekend to keep the agreement alive, and both the committee and the Catalan side consider that the project will also go ahead next week.

The latest disagreement adds to the mistrust shown over the last few months between the two regional governments, one year after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decides the venue. An authorized voice from the COE points out the “two tsunamis” that have threatened the Pyrenean project. The first, the continuous disagreements between Catalonia and Aragon: The Aragonese president, Javier Lambán, always claims a “50%” candidacy, while the president Pere Aragonès offers “collaborations”. The president of the COE, Alejandro Blanco, assured this Friday at an event in Barcelona of the Campalans Foundation, from the PSC environment, that “we have overcome the difficulties and when we take the step, next week, this candidacy will be unstoppable” . Hours later, the resistance reappeared after the harsh communication from Aragon.

The second great danger, they point out from the COE, is the permanent mistrust between Esquerra and Junts, partners in the Generalitat of Catalonia. The two independence parties are working on a popular referendum to support the project, but they still cannot agree on which territories they will be able to vote on, or what question they will pose. ERC assured that the question would be “clear” in relation to the Games, while Junts proposes including the Olympic project in a proposal for the development of the territory. The IOC has already conveyed its discomfort in a consultation that asks exclusively for support for the Games because it fears that a negative result will damage its international image. Some candidates have already fallen by the wayside in cities with an Olympic tradition (Sion, in Switzerland; Innsbruck, in Austria; Calgary, in Canada) in recent years after losing a vote and the international committee prefers to avoid that risk. The groups opposed to the Olympic event denounce the environmental impact of the Games and its economic cost, which according to the organizers would reach 1,400 million euros. The last editions cost between 2,000 and 4,000.

The vice-president of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs, already assured in EL PAÍS that “everything is voted on in referendums except what is asked.” The ascendancy of Samaranch Jr., who sounds like a possible successor to Thomas Bach in the presidency of the IOC, appears favorable for the possibilities of the candidacy. His hypothetical presidency would allow him to inaugurate the Games in 2030, as his father already did in Barcelona in 1992.

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The project was born in 2010 in Barcelona, ​​but it was not until 2018 that it gained a definitive boost in Catalonia with the technical endorsement of the IOC. The Catalan proposal met the new requirements of the international committee, much more mundane than a decade or two ago. No new infrastructure or construction for two weeks. The IOC’s difficulties in finding cities interested in hosting the Games, whether they were summer or winter, forced the organization to rethink its course. “We want sustainable Games that help develop a territory, and not the other way around,” insists a senior committee official. “If someone wants to build a new track just for the Games, we are no longer interested.” This is why the IOC agrees to hold the tests with large infrastructures in facilities already built in other territories. The technical commission of the COE has to study, together with the IOC, where the ice tube tests (luge, bobseigh and skeleton) and the jumps will be held, whose facilities, the most expensive, most complicated to maintain and less usable in the future , they will not be built for the sake of a sustainable budget. The COE studies relocating them to Sarajevo (Bosnia), France or Italy.

The IOC admits that the Spanish candidacy is well placed. The story of unity through sport is very popular in the committee. Also the possibility of putting the Pyrenees on the international map. Vancouver (Canada) is currently the main rival of Barcelona-Zaragoza-Pyrenees (the name is not yet final). Salt Lake City (United States) has already announced to the IOC that it ruled out presenting itself for 2030 and Sapporo (Japan) is limited by the recent celebration of the Tokyo 2020 Games, marked by the pandemic and by discrepancies between the international committee and the Japanese government. . Ukraine, for its part, is the only territory that made its interest official for the 2030 appointment, but the current armed conflict prevents its advance.

The central government, which sponsors the Pyrenean link between Aragon and Catalonia, also supports the candidacy of Spain and Portugal for the 2030 World Cup, but does not believe that it is impossible to achieve both events, something never seen before. Nor does he believe that society, on the eve of the economic crisis that arises from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will shout to the heavens for the expense that they would entail. “They will be two very sustainable candidacies, with very little expense. All the facilities are already practically standing, and the infrastructures. We have more to gain than to lose”, point out sources close to the Government.