"Only Barcelona could compete with Istanbul and Tokyo," says mayor

Leader of Catalan capital, Xavier Trias, announces intention to bid for Winter Games

The mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias.
The mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias.Consuelo Bautista

The mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, sought to make political capital from Madrid’s failure to win the 2020 Olympic Games on Monday, claiming that the Catalan capital was the only Spanish city able to compete at the level of Istanbul and Tokyo. Madrid had “underestimated its competitors,” he said in an interview with RAC1 radio. “Tokyo and Istanbul are spectacular cities, and from Spain, only Barcelona could compete with them, because the Barcelona brand is stronger than Istanbul’s and almost as strong as Tokyo’s.”

Just two days ago, Trias wrote an opinion piece for EL PAÍS saying that Madrid’s bid was “destined for success because of the great strength of its people and infrastructure.”

“Winning the Games is very difficult. It is a hard, long race. Olympic diplomacy works differently. These people don’t have a vision based on states, but rather one that is based on what interests the Olympic movement,” the mayor said. According to Trias, Madrid was not able to appreciate the “special interests” of the International Olympic Committee.

Trias also said that he wants Barcelona to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and that the city would try again for the 2026 and 2030 events if the first attempt was unsuccessful.

The 1992 Olympic Games were held in Barcelona to great acclaim, and saw massive investment in new infrastructure in the Catalan capital, as well as the regeneration of many run-down neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Socialist Party leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said “he would think twice” before presenting another Madrid Olympic bid. “I would let the dust settle before making a decision” he told Spanish broadcaster Telecinco.

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