More than 80% across Utah want the Winter Olympics back in Salt Lake City, new poll tells

A resounding 82 percent of those asked across Utah want to see another Winter Olympics in the capital, a poll released this week by Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics revealed. Salt Lake City hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2002 and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has already nominated the city to vie for another edition in the near future.

Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah hosted venues for Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games (Wikipedia)

The results show 55 percent ‘strongly approve’ and 27 percent ‘somewhat approve’ the use of venues in Salt Lake City and Park City to stage the Games while only 12 percent disapprove (5 percent ‘somewhat disapprove’ and 7 percent ‘strongly disapprove’) of those plans.

802 Utahns were polled from Jan. 23-30 by Dan Jones & Associates with a reported margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

The new numbers are an improvement from a similar poll taken by the same group last August showing 79 percent support with 16 percent disapproval.

Utahns still don’t know what edition of the Games they could be in the running for. The USOPC has said it prefers hosting the 2034 event to leave a gap following a commitment to the already planned Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games – this would help improve marketing and fundraising efforts for both events. But the USOPC said it would be willing to serve the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the earlier 2030 Games if necessary. This could be the case.

The outset of the 2030 bid race marked a heated battle among Barcelona-Pyrenees in Spain, Sapporo in Japan and Vancouver in Canada. Ukraine had signaled interest that was quickly lost after Russia invaded the embattled nation. Salt Lake City also joined the dialogue, but with a real target of 2034. In July the Spanish bid dropped out due to political issues and later Vancouver hit pause while it deals with the denial of necessary Provincial funding. Sapporo went into hiatus in December as the Japan Olympic Committee contends with the widespread corruption scandal connected with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Lack of viable candidates forced the IOC to temporarily suspend the race to retool, even as it blamed climate change on the need to reevaluate the criteria required to elect future hosts. Essentially, the process will be started from scratch with no set timetable and doors open for new candidates.

Earlier this week 2026 bid runner-up Sweden said it is launching a study to investigate a possible 2030 Winter Games bid after being defeated by Milan-Cortina in 2019.

The IOC also hinted that it could consider a simultaneous allocation of 2030 and 2034, a move that would likely position Salt Lake City for the latter year. IOC officials even mooted the possibility of selecting a pool of permanent, rotating hosts to ensure the future stability of the Winter Games. Strong and enduring public support – like that seen in the recent polling – would put the Utah capital in a strong position for that consideration.

The IOC said they would not move on electing a future host in 2023. That leaves the earliest possible election date as the IOC all-members Session planned for July 2024 in Paris just prior to the Olympic Games.

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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