The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Tuesday released its list of applicants interested in bidding to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, and in its statement emphasized existing interest in bidding for 2030 as well – including from the United States.
In the bold-type preamble in Tuesday’s release, the United States is the only nation mentioned by name, despite the focus being the 2026 bid campaign. Further, an included quote from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti mentioned “so many incredible cities have come forward to compete for the Olympic Winter Games in 2026 and 2030.”
Garcetti was one of the architects of the historic Summer Games double-allocation last year that ended in the awarding of Paris the 2024 edition with LA confirmed for 2028. IOC President Thomas Bach had never denied the possibility that the same could happen for the 2026 and 2030 Winter Games, but despite the ambiguous announcement Tuesday IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi urged reporters not to read anything into it.
When asked if the double-allocation was on the table he replied “this is not the case.”
“At this stage,” he added , “we are looking at 2026 and this is the focus.”
“We’re not opening a bid for 2030 at that point in time.”
Dubi told GamesBids.com during a conference call Tuesday “what we expect from the USOC is to open the door to discuss this [interest] with the IOC and those cities interested because what is really important for them will be at some point to make a choice that is probably to open a bid within the United States.”
Former host Salt Lake City is considered the U.S. front runner from among other interested cities Denver and Reno, due to it’s existing legacy from the 2002 Games.
“We’re going to make sure that we spend some time in meetings with those cities.” Dubi said.
Dubi spent much of the call defending the perceived weaknesses of each city, explaining that “a referendum is very much welcome” and necessary to measure public support. Sion in Switzerland is due to face a public vote in June and similar votes will likely follow in Calgary, Canada and Graz, Austria. Innsbruck exited the 2026 race last year after losing a referendum, and several other Summer and Winter bids in the past few years have fallen victim to the same.
He lauded Calgary’s “expertise”, “incredible assets” and explained that careful budgeting “to the last detail” will help control the risk of cost overruns.
Dubi downplayed any potential drawback of Sapporo’s bid representing the third straight Winter Games in Asia. Instead, he used the Japanese city that played host to the 1972 Winter Games as an example of a “traditional winter sports destination”
“Traditional sport destinations would be regular hosts of major events with existing infrastructure,” he said.
“We want to use existing infrastructure every chance possible, so whether it was hosting a previous Olympic Games as per the case of Sapporo, or whether this is a region that frequently hosts world cups, world championships, or other multi-sport events – it’s always better because we can work with what already exists, we don’t need to build.”
“What we are looking after is intelligent projects,” he said.
“Value propositions that do align with long-term development plans of the city irrespective of where the candidature originated from. We will be looking at this project with this state of mind.”
Other bids in the race include Erzurum in Turkey, Stockholm in Sweden and either Milan, Turin or Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy.
They will join the dialogue phase and work closely with IOC experts.
“The work performed by the administration and the working group under the Chairmanship of Mr. [Juan Antonio] Samaranch is to bring a level playing field so that a judgement can be made by the Executive Board and eventually the Session in October,” Dubi said.
The Executive Board will then recommend which cities to invite to bid, and the IOC Session will vote to approve the list.
The IOC will elect a winner September 2019.
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.