Barcelona won't bid for 2022 Winter Games
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Faced with a ticking clock and doubts both at home and abroad, Barcelona mayor Xavier Trias said Friday that his city won't present a bid for the 2022 Winter Games and instead wait for its chances to improve by 2026.
Trias said in a statement that the winning "conditions didn't exist for 2022" and that his city "must concentrate its efforts and commitment to work to reach the Olympic target by 2026."
The Mediterranean coastal city has been planning a "Barcelona-Pyrenees" candidacy, with the nearby mountains as an Alpine venue.
Time was running out for Barcelona. Before an official bid could have been lodged with the International Olympic Committee by the Nov. 14 deadline, an extraordinary assembly of the Spanish Olympic committee would have also been required to ratify the decision.
Trias had also failed to earn the backing of rival political parties in the Barcelona town hall, while IOC President Thomas Bach had suggested to Trias that Spain needed to increase its winter sports profile.
"The possibility that Barcelona and the Pyrenees host the Winter Games is a great opportunity that we won't let slip away," Trias said. "Nevertheless, after speaking with the heads of the other political parties in the Barcelona town hall, the Spanish government, the Spanish Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, they made me see that the conditions for winning didn't exist in 2022."
Barcelona's decision to wait comes a month after Madrid lost for the third straight time in its attempt to win the right to hold the Summer Olympics.
Trias acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to do to prepare a winning bid.
"I think we still have a long way to go," he said. "Barcelona is a prestigious capital associated with the world of sports, but it's not linked to the perception of being a city of ice and snow. In the years to come we have to explain to the world that we have the Pyrenees and the ski resorts an hour and a half away from our beaches."
Trias said his city government must support more funding for Spain's winter sports federations so that its "skiers and skaters" can compete at the top level.
Barcelona would not be the first warm-weather city to take advantage of nearby mountains to hold the Winter Games. The bid points to the 2006 Turin Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Games as examples. The Pyrenees are 90 miles away, much like in those previous host cities.
Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics to huge success for the city, transforming it from a postindustrial town into one of Europe's leading tourist destinations.
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.