United States Open To 2026 Olympic Winter Games Bid, Ahead of LA 2028

An American bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is still a possibility, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has said only two weeks following the awarding of the 2028 Olympic Games to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti meets with IOC President Thomas Bach and USOC Chief Larry Probst in Lausanne on September 3, 2015 (LA 24 Photo)

Could the United States host consecutive Games?  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti meets with IOC President Thomas Bach and USOC Chief Larry Probst in Lausanne on September 3, 2015 (LA 24 Photo)

“We are definitely interested in hosting the Winter Games in the United States at some point in time,” USOC Chair Larry Probst said Monday, according to TeamUSA.org.

“We have to talk about whether that’s 2026 or 2030 and what city that might be.”

Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno-Tahoe have all expressed an interest in bidding for the Games when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepts applications late next year, according to USOC CEO Scott Blackmun.

The USOC only had winning a Summer Games for Los Angeles in 2024 steady in its cross-hairs until weeks ago LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that his city had negotiated a deal to instead host the 2028 Games, leaving Paris to stage the event in 2024.  That deal was signed when IOC members approved it on Sept. 13.

The so called double-allocation means that LA has to wait eleven-years to host the Games instead of the typical seven-years – and it also opens the window for a U.S.-based Winter Games before the LA 2028 cauldron is lit.

“It’s certainly exciting to talk about the Winter Games coming back too, but there is a lot of work to be done between now and then,” LA 2028 Chair Casey Wasserman said Tuesday at a USOC Media Summit.

“There are a myriad of issues, mostly commercial and whether that effects our ability [to sell sponsorships],” Wasserman added.

A joint venture marketing agreement between LA 2028 and the USOC provides the Games organizing committee rights and opportunities to generate revenue through marketing the Olympic brand up until the Games’ conclusion.  A 2026 Winter Games during the run-up to LA’s Games could force sponsorship revenue to be split, impacting the full income potential for LA 2028.

“It’s not up to [LA 2028] to decide whether those cities in the United States who are interested to participate, but certainly before they formally bid it will require a lot conversation, a deep understanding of how that would effect us, how that would create challenges, how that might create opportunities,” Wasserman added.

LA 2028 Chair Casey Wasserman following final presentation rehearsal at Lima Convention Center (GamesBids Photo)

LA 2028 Chair Casey Wasserman following final presentation rehearsal at Lima Convention Center (GamesBids Photo)

Blackmun said that his USOC board will discuss the options at it’s Oct. 13 meeting, and if plans were to move forward a domestic bid process would have to be developed, adding “we’re grateful we have multiple cities.”

The IOC will begin dialogues with potential host cities as early as next month as part of a discussion phase in the bid process.  Calgary, Innsbruck, Sion and Stockholm – all with bid representatives present at the IOC Session in Lima two weeks ago – are potential international competition for a U.S. entry into the race.

The USOC will monitor the International cities that are developing projects.  Sion seeks necessary federal government approval of its plans next month while Innsbruck faces a binding referendum that if lost, would stop the bid in its tracks.  Stockholm has so far failed to win government support and in Calgary, an October 16 municipal election could shift the votes in City Council which currently remains split.

Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala told GamesBids.com that his city is investigating a possible 2026 bid, but with the Host City Election scheduled to take place at a Session in the same Italian city in 2019 – that may be a problem.  The Olympic Charter forbids a election to take place in the host nation of one of the bidders.

Should potential bidders fall through, a U.S.city could be exactly what the IOC needs for 2026, and like Los Angeles was, the selected candidate may be in a position to strike a deal.

Probst believes IOC President Thomas Bach seeks a European or North American city to host the 2026 edition following two-consecutive Asia-based Winter Games in PyeongChang and Beijing.

Salt Lake City hosted the Games in 2002 and Denver was elected to host in 1976 but was forced to drop plans when taxpayers refused to fund the project.  Innsbruck was chosen to host instead.

Wasserman said “I think our approach has been the Olympic Games, whether Summer or Winter, are good for American athletes and so our intent is always be a good partner to both the USOC and those American athletes.”

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com 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.