Application Deadline For 2018 Winter Olympics Looms – Who Will Bid?

Cities interested in hosting the 2018 Olympic Winter Games had better make up their minds fast – they have until this Thursday (October 15) to submit their applications. That’s right, the last of the celebratory Rio 2016 confetti has yet to be swept off of the floor and new cities are already at the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) doorstep with their USD $150,000 application fee in tow.

Some of the bidders have been at it for years, and there may be some new ones – but here is an unofficial list of who to expect (or not expect) on the bidders list and how they may factor in to the final election to be held July 6, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.

PyeongChang, South Korea
(Chances of bidding: 100%)

PyeongChang can be described as an Olympic Games host city without a scheduled date. They bid for the 2010 and 2014 Games and lost both times by the narrowest of margins. So what did they do? They began to prepare anyways by building a ski jump tower, a biathlon venue, and a new ski resort designed to accomodate the Olympic family and Olympic athletes.

The city announced intentions to bid for a third straight time earlier in the year and their campaign – considered to be the one to beat – is already underway.

Munich, Germany
(Chances of bidding: 100%)

Trying to be the first city to host both the summer and winter Games, Munich is organized and has already submitted an application to the IOC. With figure skating superstar Katarina Witt as the face of the bid and three potential logos already designed as candidates – Munich is seen as PyeongChang’s biggest challenger.

Annecy, France
(Chances of bidding: 100%)

Annecy has been quietly preparing a bid for several years now. First, the city waited out Paris’ bid for the 2012 Summer Games and then it waited until an angry French Olympic Committee was willing to bid for a Games again after Paris’ third defeat. Finally, earlier this year Annecy was given the nomination over other French contenders Nice, Grenoble and Pelvoux.

The competition will be intense but the Annecy committee says it will learn from Paris’ mistakes to secure these Games.

Harbin or Changchun China
(Chances of bidding – Harbin: 75%; Changchun 10%)

UPDATE — Reports Wednesday say there will be NO bid from China for 2018

China says they’re prepared to back a bid for the 2018 Winter Games after a successful hosting of the Beijing Games – but nothing has been committed yet. This is nothing new for the Chinese who submitted Beijing’s 2008 bid at the last minute and surprised many by quietly nominating Harbin for the 2010 Winter Games on the last possible day.

Harbin is the likely choice here – it has the facilities and experience. The city’s 2010 bid failed to make the shortlist but the fact that Beijing was already preparing for the Olympics severely prejudiced their campaign.

Changchun, the other interested city, hosted the 2007 Asian Winter Games.

There hasn’t been much recent comment on these potential bids but I would expect China to submit one of them as an applicant now that Beijing is behind them.

Jaca, Spain
(Chances of bidding: 15%)

Jaca has bid for four of the past five Winter Olympic Games. Spain doesn’t seem to miss any opportunities – and now with Madrid 2016 out of the picture it wouldn’t be surprising to see a last minute entry by Jaca. The Spanish Olympic Committee has not discussed a 2018 bid but they say they are planning a joint 2022 bid involving Jaca.

Almaty, Kazakhstan
(Chances of bidding: 10%)

Almaty bid for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games but barely missed the shortlist even though the city had equalled the benchmark technical requirements. Organizers said they would bid again but there has been no futher public discussion.

Reno-Tahoe or Denver USA
(Chances of bidding – Reno-Tahoe: 8%; Denver: 4%)

After Chicago’s stunning first-round defeat in their bid for the 2016 Games earlier this month, the door was left ajar for an American bid for the 2018 Winter Games. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) had all their assets in the Chicago bid and refused to entertain any other bids – but that has changed. Reno and Denver both claim that they have been preparing in the background should the opportunity arise but the USOC doesn’t believe there is time to prepare adequately by Thursday’s deadline.

Even so, with reported tensions between the USOC and the IOC – a 2018 bid may be disadvantaged from the start and sufffer the same fate as Chicago.

Should the USOC decide to move forward with 2018 they could take advantage of the IOC’s trend to awarding the “Winter Games consolation prize” for failed summer bids – Russia was awarded the Sochi 2014 Winter Games after Moscow failed for 2012 and Canada was given the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games after Toronto 2008 failed.

Still not convinced? Italy won the Turin 2006 Games after Rome was defeated in their 2004 bid.

The USOC would also have to decide between Denver and Reno without having time for a domestic campaign and that can result in political disaster, especially duiring these troubled times for the organization.

It’s also worth noting that Denver is best known in Olympic circles for being the only city to “give back” an Olympic Games that they had already won – the 1976 Games that were eventually hosted by Innsbruck.

Bojormi, Georgia
(Chances of bidding: 5%)

Bojormi bid for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and failed to make the shortlist but Georgia’s national Olympic Committee said in 2007 that they would bid again. This doesn’t seem too likely.

Sofia, Bulgaria
(Chances of bidding: 5%)

Sofia unsuccessfully bid for the 2014 Games and a 2008 report suggested government officials were preparing for a 2018 bid. This initiative doesn’t seem to have materialized.

Bukovel, Ukraine
(Chances of bidding: 3%)

A report in 2008 indicated that Bukovel was preparing infrastructure, including a new stadium, to prepare for an Olympic bid. There have been no further indications that this has moved forward.

Geneva, Switzerland
(Chances of bidding: 2%)

Geneva has aspirations to host the Olympic Games however the Swiss national Olympic Committee decided last year not to move forward with a 2018 bid. Could a last minute plea change their minds? Not likely.

Tromso, Norway
(Chances of bidding: 0%)

Tromso had been organizing a bid for several years then the city finally won domestic approval to bid for the 2018 Olympic Games.

But lack of support jeopardized government financial guarantees and last year the bid was forced to withdraw. The Norway Olympic Committee did not come forward with a replacement nominee.

Santiago, Chile
(Chances of bidding: 0%)

There were discussions within Chilean winter sports federations to bid for a Games as a way of bringing the Olympics to South America. With Rio’s historical win of the 2016 Olympic Games – the Chilean bid seems extremely unlikely.

Somewhere else?
(Chances of bidding: 25%)

There often seems to be a surprise bid for the Winter Olympic Games – one that is kept secret until the application date. For 2014 Borjomi was a late entry, for 2010 Harbin’s bid wasn’t announced until the last possible day. With fewer known applicants for 2018 than normal, there seems to be room for a surprise or two.

We’ll know for sure by Friday morning.

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