Salt Lake City Announces 2030 Olympic Winter Games Bid Target; But Ready To Step In For 2026

Reporting from PyeongChang, South Korea – A 140-page report from the Salt Lake City Olympic bid exploratory committee released Wednesday, along with a new poll showing 83 per cent of Utahns back a second Olympic Games, has prompted state officials to back a bid for the 2030 edition of the Winter Olympics.

The Olympic Winter Games open in PyeongChang, South Korea Friday (IOC Photo)

The poll commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune was taken state-wide last month.

With a strong legacy still standing from the successful 2002 Salt Lake City Games – the report said the Utah capital was in an excellent position to bid for a second Games now, with a 2026 application deadline set for March 31, but it makes better financial sense to wait until 2030.

Los Angeles will be hosting the 2028 Summer Games, and its contract with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) gives it a share of sponsorship revenue leading up to those Games.  If a Salt Lake Games were to take place ahead of LA’s, it would be complicated.

But planners are urging the State hurry initial bidding plans for the projected USD $1.35 billion project and be ready in case the USOC decides to pursue a bid for 2026 as a preemptive shot at 2030.  Los Angeles had been in the hunt for the 2024 Games last summer but eventually struck an unprecedented tripartite agreement with Paris and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to site Paris for 2024 and LA instead for 2028.

IOC President Thomas Bach and other senior IOC officials have refused to rule out that a similar deal could be done for the 2026 and 2030 Games in a move to reduce what Bach has called “too many losers” in the bid process.  If so, the USOC would have to enter the race next month in order to ensure 2030 won’t get out of reach.

The USOC would have to select a candidate from among Salt Lake City and the two other interested American cities Denver and Reno-Tahoe, but so far the National Olympic Committee’s Board of Directors has yet to confirm its intentions.

Internationally, only Sion in Switzerland has confirmed that it will bid for the Games – and Calgary, Stockholm and Sapporo have joined the IOC’s Dialog Stage of the bid process.

Graz in Austria last month emerged as a further potential candidate, replacing Innsbruck after that city’s bid was defeated in a referendum.

Cities participating in the dialog stage have official delegations here in PyeongChang for the Olympics starting Friday.  But exploratory committee co-Chair Fraser Bullock, Utah Sports Commission Executive Director Jeff Robins and State Sen. President Wayne Niederhauser will lead an unofficial delegation for Utah’s initiative.

Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games

Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games

“We need to be part of that process,” Bullock told The Tribune. “For this exploratory committee, the goal remains 2030 — whether it’s through the 2026 process or the 2030 process.”

The IOC could want Salt Lake City in the race to actually host in 2026, despite the obstacles created by LA.  Sion faces a risky referendum later this month, Calgary and Stockholm have yet to receive government approvals and Sapporo represents a third straight Winter Games in Asia.  A U.S. bid end up being the only option for the IOC in 2026.

After the March 31 application deadline the IOC Executive Board in October will accept bids for the final ballot to be held in Milan, Italy September 2019.

GamesBids.com is reporting from the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games this week.  Follow us @gamesbids on Twitter or on Facebook for updates.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil