IOC Open To Discussing 2026 Olympic Bids From Multiple U.S. Cities

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Thursday that it could be open to entertaining multiple bids from U.S.-based cities who are vying to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Rice-Eccles Stadium and 2002 Olympic Cauldron in Salt Lake City
Rice-Eccles Stadium and 2002 Olympic Cauldron in Salt Lake City

With Los Angeles having been selected to host the Summer Games in 2028 and the 2026 Winter Games process having been modified, allowing more time for cities to enter the race – a window has opened for interested U.S. cities to participate.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) was quick to wedge that window open by declaring last Friday that it would pursue a Winter Games to be hosted in 2026 or 2030.

Salt Lake City, hosts of the 2002 edition, made the first move Monday when it launched an “exploration” of a possible bid.  Other cities including Denver and Reno-Tahoe have expressed interest in moving forward.

But with the IOC’s new dialogue stage – a year-long period where interested bids can work interactively with IOC experts to help prepare a project and a campaign – having been launched last month, time for a domestic selection process for the USOC to narrow down its prospects is limited.  The IOC has set a March 31, 2018 deadline for applications, though campaigning doesn’t officially begin until later next October when the IOC Executive Board “invites” candidates to move forward.

IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said Thursday that he has already had discussions with the USOC on the logistics.

“Any city that can put out a strong value proposition is most welcome,” he said.

“We’ll see with the USOC what the next steps are.  We are certainly very happy that there is interest from a few U.S. cities and not only happy, but fortunate as well.”

In the past, each National Olympic Committee has been required to nominate only a single bid city to move forward at the application deadline.  With the new bid process, however, and a further commitment by the IOC to work cooperatively with the bids – the USOC is hoping for a change.

Presumably the USOC selection process could work parallel to the IOC’s dialogue phase if the IOC permits each interested city to register by the deadline.  Then, the USOC could lock in a choice before the end of the phase, effectively extending it’s deadline to commit to a single city by six months.

Internationally Sion in Switzerland, Calgary in Canada, Stockholm in Sweden and Sapporo in Japan are seriously considering bids – all having attended a bid city seminar last week.  Almaty in Kazakhstan, as 2022 runners-up, are also rumored to have interest.  Innsbruck, Austria dropped out of the race Sunday after losing a referendum.

The winner will be elected in Milan, Italy in September 2018.

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.

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