Salt Lake City has been chosen to represent the United States in a bid to host a future Winter Olympics. The Utah capital could now have the opportunity to leverage facilities that were built for the 2002 Olympics, and stage the Games again in 2030.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) made the expected decision during its quarterly Board of Directors meeting in San Francisco Friday, snubbing a rival bid from Denver, Colorado.
The USOC invited both cites, along with a Reno-Tahoe joint project that dropped from the race last month, to apply to bid for a “future Games.” The trio were chosen because they had expressed interest in hosting a Winter Games and were engaged in dialogue over the past few years.
“I’d like to thank Denver and Salt Lake City, and their respective leadership teams, for participating in this process and their commitment to make the Olympic and Paralympic movements stronger,” USOC Chair Larry Probst said Friday.
“We’re incredibly lucky to have multiple able and willing cities to choose from, but in the end, we believe Salt Lake City will give us the best chance to return the winter Games to the U.S.”
Salt Lake City has won support from its city council and state governor, and last year a state wide poll revealed 89 percent of respondents were behind the project. SLC 2030 organizers say the Games would cost USD $1.4 billion, but revenues and expected contributions from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will fully offset this amount, eliminating any possible costs to taxpayers.
USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland explained that the strong support and existing venues were key drivers behind the decision.
She said “as we look forward it is critical to ensure that we have the ability to create an incredible experience for athletes around the Olympic and Paralympic Games while at the same time managing the sustainability and fiscal responsibility, and the venues in Salt Lake City certainly provide for all of those things to occur.
“There is also incredible support from the community at large and really all facets – the political and municipal communities, and the general public.
“It was very clear to us when we were there and what they presented that Salt Lake City very much understands the practical realities of hosting a Games but also wants and supports what they represent, and are very proud to represent the United States in doing just that.”
The USOC notified the Mayors from each applicant city by phone shortly after the decision was made.
“We are truly humbled and honored to be the USOC’s choice to bid for a future Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said.
“We take our role as a member of the Olympic family seriously and look forward to showing the international community how Salt Lake City is ready, willing, and able to host a modern, sustainable, and athlete focused Games which further the spirit of sport and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”
The USOC unexpectedly launched a shortened campaign in October, three years ahead of the likely IOC application deadline, leading many observers to believe that the organization has been interested in serving as a backup choice for the 2026 edition should plans for the remaining two cities in that race fall through.
A joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo and a project from Stockholm in Sweden are struggling to rally government support for the 2026 Games ahead of a January deadline. Already five of seven cities have exited that race.
The 2026 host city will be elected in June while the 2030 race will be decided in 2023.
IOC President Thomas Bach has said that there is no plan ‘B’ to fill the potential gap, but a note in the minutes of the USOC’s previous Board of Directors meeting indicates that both 2030 and 2026 options have been discussed.
The USOC has denied any interest in the 2026 race, claiming that it will instead protect the franchise rights of the already sited Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games that is guaranteed exclusive marketing and revenue opportunities in the years running up to the event.
It is still unclear how the USOC will proceed with Salt Lake City’s bid, or what the timetable might look like.
Hirshland said, when asked by GamesBids.com “we have not yet made a determination about that (future) bid and the timing of that bid.”
“There is no 2030 bid open with the IOC at this stage anyway so the work that we’ll do is to continue to refine the possibility and refine the plan for a potential bid.
“But at this point there is no determination, nor is there an active process of bidding.
“We have the luxury of time to ensure we have a very solid plan.”
Other cities interested in bidding for the 2030 edition of the Games include Sapporo in Japan, Almaty in Kazakhstan, Lillehammer in Norway and Barcelona in Spain. Failed 2026 bids could also enter the race.
Beijing will host the Winter Games in 2022, becoming the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter events.