A committee formed to examine a possible bid to host the 2030 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss the “next step” in its bid process on news that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) expects to choose its next bid city before the end of this year.
The Executive Committee behind the bid to host the city’s second Games this century is co-chaired by Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Utah Senator Wayne Niederhauser, and according to a statement they are scheduled to update the Salt Lake Olympic and Paralympic Exploratory Committee (OEC) on current plans.
“We thought we were going to be in limbo for a while. All of a sudden now we have an opportunity and we’re going for it,” Niederhauser told Deseret News.
“I don’t think the other cities can do what we can do in such a short time. That may be a little bit arrogant, but it’s just the facts.”
The USOC process calls for site visits starting next month and another round of public opinion polls. The committee already delivered a 136-page study assessing the bid.
The exploratory committee was formed after a feasibility study recommended the that the Utah capital pursue a future Games, and the Governor endorsed the plans.
Salt Lake City can easily leverage the well-maintained state-of-the-art facilities that remain as a legacy of the 2002 Games to stage a low-cost and no-build event that would fit nicely into the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Agenda 2020 reform model.
A poll revealed that 89 percent of Utahns support the project that is estimated to cost USD $1.35 billion.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) sent the IOC a letter of interest to bid for the 2030 Games in April as cities vying for the 2026 Games were entering that race. Already part of a tripartite deal that saw Paris and Los Angeles awarded the 2024 and 2028 Games respectively, the USOC wanted a seat at the table in case the IOC wanted to repeat that double allocation process for the Winter Games cycle.
Salt Lake City, along with bids from Denver and Reno-Tahoe, had indicated interest in hosting the 2026 Games but the USOC opted out of that race to protect the franchise rights of the Los Angeles 2028 Games that would be held two years later.
The timing of the USOC’s announcement, however, is raising eyebrows as it has been organized just as the 2026 race seems to be collapsing, and on the same day a city assessment committee will be discussing whether to pull Calgary 2026 out of the race due to a funding feud with its federal government.
“This is simply the continuation of an ongoing process to select a city for a potential future Games bid,” USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in a statement to GamesBids.com .
The selection will be from among the three interested cities.
Media PSA on 2026 speculation – The USOC has expressed interest in bidding for future winter Games, but we are not involved in the 2026 campaign. Our current process is to identify a U.S. city is related to a future Games with multiple cities involved in those discussions.
— Patrick Sandusky (@patricksandusky) October 30, 2018
There are already doubts that the Canadian city will hold a planned and potentially decisive plebiscite on November 13, and if Calgary becomes the fourth city to abandon a 2026 bid the situation will become dire for the IOC.
Graz in Austria, Sion in Switzerland, and Sapporo in Japan have already dropped from the race, and Erzurum in Turkey was left off the IOC short list because the plans were deemed too costly.
The remaining bidders from Stockholm in Sweden and Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo jointly in Italy are both struggling to finalize government supported and funded plans prior to a January 11 bid book deadline. It’s possible both European cities could exit the race early, missing the IOC’s June election date.
That would leave the IOC without a Winter Games bidder for the first time in history.
IOC President Thomas Bach said earlier in the month that in such a case, there is no plan ‘B’. But Salt Lake City has said that it could be ready to host a Games almost immediately.
Tuesday’s meeting could be the place to discuss options for 2026 if they are to become available.
The USOC has repeatedly denied that there is interest in a 2026 Games, but the early start of the 2030 domestic process with a decision before January opens up that opportunity.
The possibility of considering a 2026 Games was discussed at a September 21 USOC board meeting. According to the meeting minutes there was talk of “…a potential approach to continuing to explore the possibility of putting together a US bid for one of these or another future Games, including by conducting a process by which the USOC might narrow to one the number of cities with whom it might cooperate to engage in any such bid.”
This was said “in connection with the 2026 and 2030 Games in particular.”
The 2026 host city is expected to be named in June.
GamesBids.com understands that should all cities bidding for the 2026 Games pull out of the race, Salt Lake City could be offered as a replacement.
The IOC will elect a 2030 host city in 2023.
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.