Salt Lake City continues Olympic bid discussions with LA 2028; IOC President downplays urgency to site 2030 Winter Games

Salt Lake City’s ramped-up efforts to land a second Olympic Winter Games include ongoing discussions with organizers of the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Chair Susanne Lyons confirmed Monday from headquarters in Colorado Springs.

Rice-Eccles Stadium and 2002 Olympic Cauldron in Salt Lake City

Rice-Eccles Stadium and 2002 Olympic Cauldron in Salt Lake City. SLC 2002 generated an operational surplus of over USD $50 million.

These discussions point to a desire for the Utah capital to bid for the earlier 2030 edition of the Games even as organizers say they may have to wait until 2034.

Staging the Games only 18 months apart in the United States could be financially inefficient for both events and the USOPC as the exclusive sponsorship windows will overlap and there is a risk that some available revenues might be split.  Los Angeles organizers, having been awarded the Games in 2017, would need to sign off on a Salt Lake City 2030 Games and could request concessions in return.

Other insiders have suggested that the one-two punch of consecutive Summer and Winter Games could be a marketing boon for sponsors, and provide efficiencies that would lower costs of staging both events.

“We are very aware there are interlocking discussions,” Lyons told by conference call referring to conversations among the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee For The Games (SLC-UTAH), the LA 2028 organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Last week SLC-UTAH shifted into a higher gear by naming Olympian Catherine Raney Norman as the new Chair of the bid and adding notable athletes to the governing board including Lindsey Vonn, Apolo Ohno and Monte Meier.

President of SLC-UTAH Fraser Bullock was candid with The Sports Examiner when he indicated a clear preference to host in 2030 over 2034.  He said “our venues are well supported by the [2002] endowment, but the endowment is declining, and over time, it’s going to get smaller and smaller, and can we keep our venues active? It was never intended to go this long, so there is going to be financial hardship on keeping everything alive until 2034. Frankly, the numbers don’t add up.”

“I think the other thing is – very important – back to the athletes. ‘34 is a long time to wait to get Games back here, and if we want to re-energize Team USA in winter sport, I think ‘30 would be a lot stronger for us.”

But Lyons stressed that no decisions have been made and opportunities exist either year “if and when we bring the Winter Games back to the U.S.”

Lyons also emphasized that there would be little movement with the bid ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games scheduled to open July 23.

Earlier this month IOC President Thomas Bach downplayed any urgency to award the next available Winter Games planned for 2030 despite news that Brisbane is set to sign the host city contract to stage the Summer Games two years later in 2032, when members meet to vote on the plans in Tokyo next month.

Bach told “we’re not in a hurry, you know we’re still nine years ahead of these Winter Games so it’s a work in progress.  Let’s see when when [the IOC Future Host Commission] will come up with something [to report to Executive Board].

He added “Organizing Winter Games is somehow more complex than organizing Summer Games because Olympic sized swimming pools are available almost all across the globe but there are not so many mountains where you can organize a downhill.  So some of these need closer study.”

The Winter Games are typically awarded seven years in advance, but in 2019 new reforms eliminated timelines and now allow the IOC Executive Board to propose a candidate for election at any time.  Interested cities engage in continuous dialogue with the IOC’s future host commissions until a preferred candidate is recognized.  Along with Salt Lake City, 2030 bidders have emerged from Vancouver in Canada, Sapporo in Japan and Pyrenees-Barcelona .  Quebec in Canada has also indicated interest and other jurisdictions could be involved but the IOC says that they will keep names of interested bidders confidential.

Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Games in February and Milan-Cortina is preparing to stage the event in 2026.

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