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  • Barcelona Prepares Winter Olympic Bid


    (ATR) The architects of the bid for the Winter Olympics Pyrenees - Barcelona 2030 claim to be ready to present their project to the International Olympic Committee in the second half of 2019.
    Barcelona's Camp Nou could host the opening and closing ceremonies in 2030 (Getty Images)

    The latest development for the bid is a plan to stage transnational games in Andorra, France as well as the Spanish region of Aragon.

    The formalization of the Catalan proposal will be made after June 24. That’s the day when the IOC Session in Lausanne decides between Milan and Stockholm for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

    Proponents of the Barcelona initiative have gone ahead despite the certainty that the 2026 games will go to Europe. Whether the IOC would rather rotate 2030 to another continent depends on viable candidates. So far the competition for Pyrenees - Barcelona 2030 could include 2002 winter host Salt Lake City and 1972 host Sapporo. The IOC decision would come in 2023.

    "We are not afraid ... We will come out with our best line to compete and win," Gerard Figueras, Secretary General of Sports of Catalunya tells Around the Rings. He is the most visible face of the bid

    Meeting with Thomas Bach, Dialogue With the IOC

    Figueras confirms that he met with IOC President Thomas Bach when he came to Barcelona in February

    Andorra hosted the Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals in March (Getty Images)
    "That meeting strengthened our confidence in the work we are doing together with the technical team of the IOC,” he says.

    "We also noticed the follow-up and interest in the political part of the IOC, in the person of its president," he said.

    "Beyond explaining where our technical works are located, in that meeting we sent a clear message. We have a winning project, positive, according to the 2020 IOC Agenda, with the opportunity to open a window to the world," Figueras says.

    Official dialogue with the IOC began in June 2018. The working group from Barcelona met IOC member in Spain Juan Antonio Samaranch and IOC deputy director Pere Miró, himself a Catalan native. Two other meetings have followed with IOC specialists led by the veteran Olympic expert Gilbert Felli.

    Felli and the IOC team visited venues and inspected infrastructure, some of it part of the historical legacy of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Felli submitted a report to the IOC that concludes that it is possible to organize a Winter Games according to the model proposed for Barcelona.

    Figueras says the Catalan technical dossier could be finished by the end of May. But he says it would be "a private presentation". He says the document will include assessments of sports facilities, mobility issues and accommodation, among the major aspects.

    Spanish Support for the Bid

    Also playing a role in the bid along with Samaranch are Spain’s other IOC members, International Triathlon Union president Marisol Casado and International Canoe Federation president José Perurena. Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco is another key member of the team.

    Gerard Figueras, Secretary General of Sports of Catalunya (Twitter @esportcat)
    Figueras says an "exceptional" bond has been established with Blanco.

    "Without this confidence, the 2030 project could not have reached where it is today," he says.

    Blanco has said that Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 bid should not be seen as the project of a city but of a country.

    "We have to see that the political consensus that has been built and maintained is preserved and maintained after these elections,” Figueras says.

    "I believe that whatever the outcome, if those who win the elections have the ability to see the positive opportunity of the Olympic project, even for the IOC, the political strength of the candidacy is not going to be shredded but reinforced," he said.

    While Figueras says the political situation in Catalonia and in Spain is complicated, he says the push by some in Catalonia to separate from Spain has not affected the Olympic project.

    "I think that both Spanish and Catalan political leaders understand that the Olympic Games are an opportunity for dialogue," says Figueras.

    The Olympic Games "may be left out of the political dispute and therefore be the great project of Spain to establish a relationship of trust between two parties that have recently gone through a unique situation," he says.

    Creating a New Space for Sport

    The venue plan for Barcelona calls for Games in the Pyrenees that also cover the Autonomous Community of Aragon, Andorra and the south of France.
    (Pirineus-Barcelona 2030)

    "The Games would be a great opportunity to place the Pyrenees on the international map of winter and mountain sports," says Figueras.

    He says sport can become an economic engine to help counter "the problem that we face at this moment in Europe, which is the depopulation of rural areas."

    The transnational Games would also allow the use of the existing bobsleigh and skeleton circuits in the French Pyrenees.

    Barcelona has no tradition in these disciplines.

    "We are not going to waste money, neither public nor private. We are going to adapt the Games to the existing facilities, "said Figueras.

    The anticipated budget for the Barcelona Games calls for $1.5 billion to stage the event. The IOC would supply $1 billion, $300 million would be generated by ticket sales and domestic sponsors would contribute an amount close to $300 million. The balance of funding, about 20 percent of the budget, would come from the public coffers.

    Figueras says the investment will bring long term benefits.

    "A new space will be born in southern Europe to practice nature sports,” says the Catalan sports director.

    Reported by Miguel Hernandez.

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