IOC Claims Sapporo, Salt Lake City and Barcelona In Running To Host Winter Olympics

Three regions have engaged with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to discuss hosting future Winter Olympics, according to the organization’s Future Host Commission for Winter Games.

IOC Future Host Commission for Winter Games Chair Octavian Moraiu addresses IOC Session in Lausanne, Switzerland January 10, 2020 (Photo: Christophe Moratal/IOC)

IOC Future Host Commission for Winter Games Chair Octavian Moraiu addresses IOC Session in Lausanne, Switzerland January 10, 2020 (Photo: Christophe Moratal/IOC)

Commission Chair Octavian Morariu told the IOC Session in Lausanne, Switzerland Friday that Sapporo in Japan, Salt Lake City in the United States and Pyrenees-Barcelona in Spain have each opened a dialogue with the intent to host the Games in either 2030, 2034 or 2038.  Under the new IOC bidding rules implemented last year National Olympic Committees can enter discussions with the IOC at any time to assess a mutual interest in partnering for a future Games.

No timetables have been set for the process and Morariu stressed that the door is still open for other interested cities to come forward.  He said that the Host City Contract and other relevant documents have been published on the IOC Website for reference and transparency.

Sapporo’s 2030 bid was made official last month when the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) announced it was the domestic nomination for the Games.  The city has already hosted the 1972 Winter Games but dropped a bid for the 2026 edition after a 2018 earthquake caused deaths and infrastructure damage prompting organizer to refocus on 2030.

The northern Japanese city was recently chosen to stage the marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games in July due to the city’s cooler climate.

On Wednesday IOC President Thomas Bach said “I am very confident that [Sapporo] could organize an excellent Olympic Winter Games.”

2002 Winter Games host Salt Lake City has been put forward again by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for a “future Games”.  The Utah capital won domestic rights to bid for an unnamed edition when it defeated Denver and Reno-Tahoe during a 2018 campaign with plans to use all existing venues.

IOC President Plays Up “Excellent” Sapporo 2030 Olympic Winter Games Bid

However, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland told late last year that no decision has been made for Salt Lake City to bid for the 2030 edition, and insiders believe that a U.S. Winter Games only 19 months after the scheduled Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games would impact aggregate sponsorship revenues.  A 2034 Winter Games is thought to be a better fit for the U.S.

When asked Friday, a USOPC spokesperson did not confirm there was any change, even after Morariu’s announcement that there was interest from Salt Lake City

“As we’ve said before, we would like to bring the Olympic Winter Games back to the United States and if we have the opportunity to bid for that honor at some point in the future, Salt Lake City will be our partner,” the spokesperson told

A bid from Barcelona involving venues across the Pyrenees was first proposed but never submitted for the 2026 Games that were eventually awarded to a joint Milan-Cortina project in Italy.  New IOC rules that embrace sustainable regional projects has made the Spanish project a more attractive option, and organizers launched plans for a future Games last March.

Lillehammer in Norway had shown recent interest in hosting the Games but are not currently on the IOC’s radar, according to Morariu’s comments.

Beijing is set to host the Winter Games in 2022, becoming the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter editions.

On Friday the IOC voted to send the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games to Gangwon Province in South Korea, using many of the same venues that were featured at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games.  The 2020 Winter Youth Olympics are currently underway in Lausanne.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.