Sweden studying possible 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid

Sweden has launched a preliminary study aimed at weighing the opportunity to bid for the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) announced Tuesday. The organization met with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prior to making the announcement.

Åre and Östersund in Sweden set to host 2023 World Para Snow Sports Championships (SOK Photo)
Åre and Östersund in Sweden could join a bid to host 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (SOK Photo)

The emerging interest from one of the world’s strongest winter sports nations will be welcomed by the IOC after the 2030 race stalled last year with dubious contenders and no election date in sight. The bid had been scheduled to end this May, but after internal delays and second thoughts by interested bidders, the IOC made clear in December that the competition would be put on pause and additional parties would be encouraged to join.

“As a first step, we had a meeting with the IOC about looking at possibility of hosting a the future Winter Games in 2030, without obligations on any either side. It was clear from our meeting that our previous concept for 2026 was much appreciated,” SOC Acting President Anders Larsson said.

“What the feasibility study should answer is whether we are ready to move forward in the process.

“The preliminary study will show how the Olympics can be shaped based on Sweden’s context.

“We already have pretty much all the arenas required to stage the biggest Winter Games.”

After being defeated by Milan-Cortina by a vote count of 47-34 with a joint Stockholm Åre 2026 Winter Games bid in 2019, Sweden remained the most successful Winter Olympics nation never to have hosted the event. The country also failed in attempts to host in 2004, 1998, 1994, 1988 and 1984. After staging the Summer Games in Stockholm in 1912, the capital failed to secure hosting rights again in 1952 and 2004.

“We learned a lot from the candidacy in 2026,” SOC Acting Vice President Hans von Uthmann said, adding “now we have had initial contacts with both Swedish politics and other stakeholders before we even started work on a feasibility study.”

Von Uthmann has been pegged to lead the feasibility study’s steering group together with the presidents of the SOC, the Swedish Paralympic Committee (SPC) and the National Sports Federation.

“The idea is to review the concept that existed for the candidacy in 2026, which would involve competitions in several places in Sweden, including Stockholm, Dalarna and Jämtland,” SOC Secretary-General Åsa Edlund Jönsson said.

“Here, we feel secure that there is a great deal of experience in organizing world-class winter championships in the Swedish sports movement.”

SPC President Åsa Llinares Norlin pointed to recently held events, including the Para World Championships in cross country and biathlon in Östersund, as evidence that Sweden is ready to host the Paralympics.

The IOC has already chosen hosts as far out as 2032 with the election of Brisbane, Australia for those Summer Games, but attracting a solid host for 2030 has so far remained elusive. Former 2002 host Salt Lake City is standing by ready for a 2030 election but most stakeholders prefer the U.S. city host instead in 2034 to build a time gap that will maximize potential revenue following the already planned Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games.

Sapporo had been a favorite throughout the previously intense race, but Japanese officials hit pause last November while the Tokyo 2020 bribery and corruption scandal dominated headlines and soured public opinion in various polls. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) also dialed back efforts last fall when the provincial government refused to offer required funding for an indigenous-led British Columbia project planned to center around Vancouver.

Last summer a Spanish project involving Barcelona and the Pyrenees was quashed when joint partners were unable to resolve political differences or agree on the proposed venue allocation. Intentions by Ukraine to forward a 2030 bid fizzled out a year ago when Russia waged war on the nation.

Last month a rumored bid offering a powerful combination of France, Switzerland and Italy promised to fill the gaping void but it was quickly dispelled by required stakeholders who said they were not interested.

According to an SOC statement, if the preliminary study is positive then a bid will join the IOCs continuous dialogue stage of the process. Upon mutual agreement, the project could then move forward to a targeted dialogue which would position the bid for a future host election at an IOC Session. No dates have been set, but the IOC indicated last year that a 2030 host would not be elected in 2023. In 2024, the earliest IOC Session is scheduled to take place in Paris in July ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games.

Other bidders, including Sapporo, Vancouver and Salt Lake City, have not been ruled out. But the IOC has made it clear that due to the challenges with those projects – other interest will be welcomed and seriously considered.

A possible double allocation that would name hosts for 2030 and 2034 simultaneously is also being studied by the IOC, and a commission is investigating the impact of climate change on future host decisions and how a rotating pool of permanent hosts might provide stability to the Games.

The Stockholm Åre 2026 bid was challenging, with the loss largely blamed on the capital city’s government reluctance to fund the project, instead offering to lease the required venues to the organizing committee. Public support was also tepid, with a poll just days ahead of the vote showing 63 percent backed the project.

Ultimately IOC President Thomas Bach blamed both public and political support for the bid’s demise.

“My assumption is what was key was the gap in public support [between Italy and Sweden],” he said following the election

“The 83 percent to 55 percent,” he added, referring to results taken from earlier IOC commissioned polls.

“To many members this (gap) was a clear signal.

“Public support often goes hand-in-hand with political support.

“Maybe this is why the city of Stockholm was not ready to sign the host city contract.”

But now, if they are ready, the door is wide open to secure the nation’s first Winter 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.

scroll to top