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Barcelona pursues ’22 or ’26 Winter Olympic bid

October 17, 2013

MADRID (AP) — On the heels of another failed Madrid bid for the Summer Olympics, Barcelona is hesitantly inching forward with its desire to host the Winter Games. Whether it bids for the 2022 or 2026 Games is the question.

The Mediterranean coastal city is planning a “Barcelona-Pyrenees” candidacy, with the nearby mountains as an alpine venue. The issue has gained urgency ever since Madrid failed in its attempt to land the 2020 Summer Games last month.

Barcelona Mayor Xavier Trias said he backs a 2022 bid “but if that’s not possible, then we’ll try for 2026.”

Trias will meet with the municipal parties on Friday when they “should tell us what their position on the bid is, and after that we’ll take a decision.”

The IOC must receive 2022 bid applications by Nov. 14.

Almaty, Kazakhstan, has already officially 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. The IOC will select the 2022 host city in 2015.

Barcelona and Munich have each hosted the Summer Olympics, in 1992 and 1972, respectively. Both are hoping to become the first city to host both a summer and winter games.

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 to 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 150 kilometers (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 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).

One problem the city is facing is time.

The Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) must lodge the bid with the IOC by Nov. 14, but before that must hold an extraordinary general assembly to ratify a decision, an event that needs 20 days’ advance notice. That leaves Barcelona up against the clock to communicate the decision to the country’s Olympic body.

And the COE is not pressing to submit a candidacy following Madrid’s humiliating defeat in Buenos Aires last month, when 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.

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