Thursday, October 17, 2013
Barcelona pursues '22 or '26 Winter Olympic bid
MADRID -- After another failed bid by Madrid for the Summer Olympics, Barcelona is inching toward a decision on the Winter Games. Whether it bids for 2022 or 2026 is the question.
The Mediterranean coastal city is planning a "Barcelona-Pyrenees" candidacy, with the nearby mountains as an Alpine venue.
The matter has assumed greater importance after Madrid last month was unable to land the 2020 Summer Games. The IOC must receive 2022 bid applications by Nov. 14, with the selection in 2015.
Almaty, Kazakhstan, has already lodged a bid for the 2022 Games. Other potential contenders include Oslo; Munich; a city in Ukraine; and a joint bid from Poland and Slovakia.
Barcelona (1992) and Munich (1972) have hosted the Summer Olympics. Both are hoping to become the first city to hold both a Summer and Winter Games.
Barcelona Mayor Xavier Trias backs a 2022 bid, "but if that's not possible, then we'll try for 2026." He will meet with the municipal parties Friday when they "should tell us what their position on the bid is, and after that we'll take a decision."
Trias met with 50 representatives of the Pyrenees, the Catalan government and Barcelona-Pyrenees 2022 officials on Thursday to gauge the level of support.
"The entire territory, without any detractors, showed great enthusiasm and really want us to bid on 2022," said Trias, whose next challenge is to reach across party lines to the city's opposition parties.
"We want a Winter Olympics that has maximum support from all of the parties and every chance of winning, whether it's in 2022 or 2026," Trias said, according to a statement.
Trias traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday to consult with IOC President Thomas Bach, who is German, about a possible Barcelona bid.
"His advice wasn't criticism but aid aimed at giving us a better chance of winning," Trias' office said in a statement. "Some of that was to explain the project in more detail, so that the links between Barcelona and the mountains can be better understood, to show how close these two sites are to one another, and a bigger push to promote winter sports."
Barcelona is adamant its candidacy is not much different from previous ones, with the 2006 Turin Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Games as examples. The Pyrenees, where the majority of Alpine events would be held, are just 90 miles away, much like in those previous host cities.
But Barcelona also has beaches and summer-like weather in February, with the average temperature reaching nearly 59 degrees.
One problem the city is facing is time.
The Spanish Olympic Committee must bid by Nov. 14, but before that must hold a special general assembly meeting to ratify a decision, an event that needs 20 days' notice. That puts Barcelona up against the clock.
The committee, however, is not feeling pressure following Madrid's humiliating defeat in Buenos Aires last month. The Spanish capital finished third behind winner Tokyo and Istanbul in the three-city vote for 2020.
Barcelona used the 1992 Olympics to remodel the city's seafront and invest heavily in transportation and other improvements. Thanks to the success of the games, Barcelona was transformed from a postindustrial town into one of Europe's leading tourist destinations.