Salt Lake City’s bid to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games may be the most prepared in the fledgling race, but it might be timing that blocks the city from hosting its second Games in under 30 years.
The Utah capital, that along with neighbouring Park City hosted the Winter Games in 2002, is facing rivals from Canada, Japan and Spain in its bid to host in 2030 – but it could be an American city that prevents that goal from being reached.
Los Angeles is set to host the Summer Games in 2028, only 18 months before the Winter Games are expected to open.
In 2017 Los Angeles was awarded the Games as part of a tripartite agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that also led to the election of Paris for the 2024 Games in the same all-members Session vote. This unique double allocation of the Games took place after the two viable cites were all that remained when three other cities dropped out of the running.
“There are other really good candidates,” Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games (SLC-UT) president Fraser Bullock said about projects originating from Barcelona, Sapporo and Vancouver – all previous Olympic hosts.
Speaking at public board meeting Thursday he added “As we look at the dynamics of the other cities versus us, we recognize that back-to-back Games are challenging,” Deseret News reported.
“Geopolitically, it’s hard for the IOC to award back-to-back Games in the U.S., for ’28 and for ’30. We know that that’s hard. But we also recognize there are opportunities through back-to-back Games, through collaborations.
“We’re continuing to work through those issues and present our case.”
But there are more complicated issues than geopolitics that need to be worked through among SLC-UT, LA 2028 and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) if the 2030 project is to move forward. Los Angeles has budgeted for a Games that is expected to leave a financial legacy (Olympic-speak for profit), and to reach that goal it will rely on a strong domestic sponsorship program that has already launched. Last month LA 2028 and the USOPC signed a long-term agreement with Hershey as an official supporter.
Salt Lake City will be working towards the same financial goal should it be awarded the Games next May – according to the anticipated schedule outlined by the IOC last month. Fundraising activities and sponsorship benefits will overlap for much of the remainder of this decade, and the total available income will ultimately be shared among the two organizing committees and the USOPC. Limitations, including sponsorship fatigue, could dilute the income available for each Games.
Los Angeles has already signed an exclusive agreement with the USOPC, and LA 2028 leadership have already been involved in ongoing discussions over the SLC 2030 bid. USOPC officials explained earlier this year that teams are looking for a synergistic approach that they hope will lead to robust sponsorship opportunities, and packages that are more lucrative
“One could say that there are actually some very interesting things you can do with the notion of a bundled package of two Games in the U.S. that we are offering to our commercial partners,” USOPC chair Susanne Lyons told GamesBids.com.
The uncertainty has prompted Salt Lake City leadership to prepare plan ‘b’, a Games in 2034 should the preferred option fail. Agreements and contracts that are being prepared for 2030 will be extendable to 2034, according to Bullock. The new Olympic bidding process allows interested parties to join a ‘continuous dialogue’ to discuss hosting options before one or more cities are identified for ‘targeted dialogue’ and a specific edition of the Games, so at the moment SLC-UT and rivals are just in the pool for any future Games.
The IOC estimate that it will be ready to identify bids for targeted dialogue in December, and though it has not been specifically discussed, the IOC’s Future Host Commission and Executive Board could target and elect two editions of the Games at one time. The dual allocation of Paris and Los Angeles has already set a recent precedent for this line of thinking.
“We have heard nothing about that. That’s totally in the purview of the IOC and we’ll support whatever action they take,” Bullock said Thursday.
SLC-UT will send a high-level delegation to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland from June 15-16 for more intense discussions after earlier in-person meetings were postponed due to the pandemic. The team will include Bullock, bid Chair Catherine Raney Norman, advisors Darren Hughes and Nubia Peña and Olympic downhill ski champion Lindsey Vonn.
Bid officials are also expected to virtually join a Beijing 2022 Winter Games debrief to be held with the Milan-Cortina 2026 organizing committee in Milan, Italy on June 20.
In April, an IOC team of technical experts traveled to Utah to tour venues proposed for SLC 2030. The same team concluded its trip to Sapporo Thursday after visiting Vancouver early May.
Sapporo’s bid has entered a domestic public consultation phase after a poll indicated over 50 percent support the project. A draft ordinance for a public referendum was proposed in city assembly Thursday but it is expected to be rejected by the majority party when it goes to a vote Monday.
A proposed Vancouver bid is expected to complete a feasibility study this month before consulting with First Nations leaders and municipal partners for a consensus to move the project forward.
The Pyrenees-Barcelona bid that had been planned jointly between Catalonia and Aragon is currently in hiatus after both parties failed to agree on a venue allocation. The Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) said it will continue to work with partners to develop a competitive bid to present to the IOC.