IOC wants Salt Lake City to host the Winter Olympics in 2034 according to new USOPC Chief

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is committed to awarding Salt Lake City with the 2034 Olympic Winter Games according to a United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) official, it was revealed Thursday.

Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games (Photo: Debaird)
Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games (Photo: Debaird)

Following a quarterly board meeting in Colorado Springs held this week, USOPC Chair Gene Sykes told reporters that his organization and the IOC share the same preferences regarding the selection of 2030 and 2034 Winter Games hosts.

“[The IOC] have been looking to find a city that would offer a good alternative to Salt Lake City for 2030,” Sykes, who was CEO of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic bid committee and continues as a board member of the organizing committee, told reporters by teleconference.

“They understand our preference, they have the same preference we do for 2034 if possible.”

The USOPC and Salt Lake City 2030 have long made it known that they prefer to host in 2034 to widen the time span from LA 2028 and maximize revenue opportunities. But with the shortage of viable candidates vying for the 2030 edition – the USOPC have said they are willing to serve the Olympic Movement and step in for the earlier edition if needed.

Sykes, who chaired his first board meeting since his appointment last year, clarified for the first time that the intentions of the USOPC and IOC on Salt Lake City are aligned and that it’s likely that the Utah capital will host its second Winter Games in 2034 or 2030. His comments also add clarity to IOC President Thomas Bach’s remarks last December indicating that a ’30/’34 double allocation is being considered.

The once intense race to host in 2030 has since evaporated, forcing Salt Lake City to stand by. Last year a bid from Spain withdrew due to internal political differences; a Vancouver bid stepped back when it failed to get a provincial government endorsement and Sapporo hit the pause button when the fallout of the Tokyo 2020 corruption scandal became to much for the Japanese bid to bear. Ukraine had raised its hand earlier in the year, but the Russian invasion and subsequent war took that option off the table.

Last month a Swedish group revealed plans to explore a sequel to its failed 2026 bid, giving the IOC some hope that SLC 2034 plans might still be achievable. The IOC claims as many as six regions are discussing future Winter Games bids, but its own secrecy rules prevent it from disclosing which regions are interested.

“I think the question about which cities or communities are really capable of being hosts for the Winter Games is a big question that the IOC has to deal with very very thoroughly,” Sykes said.

“But almost every other city has some limitation – capability or local support or something else.

“I think it is fair to say that there will not be bids from any other hosts which will be more attractive to the IOC than a bid from Salt Lake City. Just even how well prepared Salt Lake City is and that has global support which is absolutely critical and I think very very differentiating. So I don’t imagine that any bid will be more attractive than the Salt Lake City opportunity.”

There is no set timetable for the awarding of the Winter Games following the IOC’s new flexible, dialogue-based bid approach. In December Bach said a double allocation would need to take place no later than 2025. IOC Officials also committed to studying Winter Games selection criteria to identify climate capable regions, and this would prevent the awarding of the Games before 2024.

An IOC all-members vote is required to elect hosts, and that meeting will take place jointly with the Paris 2024 Summer Games in July.

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

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