IOC visiting Salt Lake City while Spain’s 2030 Olympic bid technical inspection postponed due to “insurmountable differences”

A technical delegation representing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is scheduled to touch down in Utah Tuesday ahead of a three-day inspection of the Salt Lake City 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid set to run Wednesday to Friday.

IOC Evaluation Commission Chair Octavian Morariu speaks to the press at the Palazzo Marino in Milan April 6, 2019 (GamesBids Photo)

IOC Evaluation Commission Chair Octavian Morariu speaks to the press at the Palazzo Marino in Milan April 6, 2019 during the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympic bid (GamesBids Photo)

IOC Technical experts are expected to visit proposed competition, ceremony and accommodation venues across the region in what will mark their first face-to-face meeting with members of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games (SLC-UT) and representatives from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).  The United States’ bid for the Games has been involved in the IOC’s continuous dialogue process of the Future Host Commission led by Octavian Morariu.

Unlike bids in the past where official site evaluation visits were marked with elaborate welcoming ceremonies, dinners with heads-of-state, street banners and demonstrations of public support throughout the city – this primarily technical visit will be held quietly and behind closed doors following the new process introduced by the IOC in 2019.  The visit is closed to the media according to “IOC protocol” a SLC-UT media statement confirmed.

“The IOC visit is an opportunity for us to showcase both our ongoing athlete engagement with the many 2002 legacy venues as well as our preparedness now for hosting the Games,” SLC-UT President and CEO Fraser Bullock said in a statement.

Meanwhile the same delegation’s visit scheduled for Spain in May to evaluate the Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 bid has been postponed by the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) due to “insurmountable differences” among the hosting regions, according to COE President Alejandro Blanco.  Instead, the May timeline has now been set to resolve disputes that are paralyzing the project as Catalonia and Aragon leaders can’t agree on the distribution of host venues across the region.

“We are in a hurry, a representation of the IOC was going to come in May to see the facilities, and now we have to delay it,” Blanco said according to Europa Press.

“We are close to the limit and in May everything has to be absolutely clear, otherwise we would have to make another approach.  We are going to give us a few days and in that meeting we should already have a decision.”

Blanco met Monday with Spanish Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Víctor Francos, the Generalitat of Catalonia general secretary of the presidency Nuria Cuenca and the Government of Aragon Minister of Education, Culture and Sports Felipe Faci.  According to a statement by the COE the parties agreed to work towards a unanimous agreement  for a sustainable candidacy to host the Games in 2030.

But Blanco later told reporters that “there has been no agreement, but we have been summoned to continue having conversations. I hope, I wish and I am sure that we will reach an agreement.

“We do not consider the Games lost.  Aragon has made a proposal, there was an initial agreement, but the Government and the COE do not want to miss the opportunity and lose the Games.”

There are further obstacles for the Spanish bid with a referendum scheduled to be held July 24 in impacted counties across Catalonia.  On Monday representatives of the Catalonia pro-independence organization Council for the Republic said they would seek a broader referendum giving all across the region a voice.  The group has launched a petition and aims to collect 100,000 signatures by May 25 that may trigger a separate non-binding vote.

Sapporo in Japan is among interested cities in the 2030 race and the 1972 Winter Olympics host is also expected to receive the Future Host Commission team.  The First Nations’ led Vancouver-Whistler bid from Canada is in early development and could receive a visit at a future date.

The IOC has not set a timetable for the election for the 2030 host city but it is expected that a preferred candidate will be chosen from among interested parties by the end of the year.  A host city could be confirmed at the IOC’s all-members session to be held in Mumbai, India next spring.

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