Barcelona, it has now been reported from Spain, is saying goodbye to the group of applicants for the 2030 Winter Games. This hits the International Olympic Committee hard. Although there are other interested parties for this event, it is not the same: Sapporo/Japan, Vancouver/Canada and Salt Lake City/USA remain – they have all had the Winter Games before, the last two even only in 2002 and 2010. Japan just hosted the summer games with Tokyo. And the possible interested party Georgia: Aren’t there other topics at the moment?
Measured against this, the Spanish application had real appeal: a candidate from Western Europe, where the population had said goodbye to the winter business since Lillehammer 1994 and had repeatedly denounced the Olympic orgies of environmental destruction in referendums. The exception here is the Italian Alpine region, which is always happy to step in as the last bastion of the Ring clan, after Turin 2006 it is Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo in 2026.
Barcelona had a novelty to offer: Winter Olympics in the Pyrenees! That would have been a break from the rut. It could have been sold by the IOC as a signal that Europe was glowing again for the Winter Games, and it could also have healed the blemish suffered months ago that Beijing of all places – which does not tend to stand for the pious values that the IOC painted on its flag – , is the only Olympic venue in the world that has been allowed to host summer and winter games. In Barcelona, Europe, after all the cradle of the Games, could have drawn level; the summer games took place there in 1992.
And finally, the dramaturgy would have been perfect because it would have simplified a central sport-political course in the IOC itself. The summer break in 1992 was tricked by the then Olympic boss Juan Antonio Samaranch to Catalonia. And this time, too, a Samaranch could have pinned the Barcelona games to his lapel: Juan Antonio junior. The filius of the former ring regent (1980 – 2001) wants to take up a clearly long-planned Olympic succession: If Thomas Bach, political foster son of the old ruler Samaranch, has to step down from the throne in 2025, the signet ring should pass to the Catalan junior. It would have been easier with home games in the luggage.
Only: Samaranch and the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) were not able to pacify the firebrands at home. The Pyrenean Party failed over questions such as who is allowed to hold the most attractive competitions, the governments of Aragon and Catalonia had hopelessly fallen out here.
Then Japan again. Or, who cares, North America with Canada and the USA, where a gigantic football World Cup with 48 national teams will already be held in 2026 – and two years later, in 2028, the summer games will take place in Los Angeles. Whether they will be opened by Samaranch junior is also no longer so certain. Barcelona did not fail because of strong rivals, COE boss Alejandro Blanco bitterly stated. “We destroyed this application at home!”
That would not have happened to the old patron.