U.S. Olympic officials are still hopeful that the Winter Games could return to the United States as early as 2030, it was revealed Monday, but they’re asking the leadership of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic organizing committee to weigh in on any decision.
The topic was discussed at a board meeting held by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) late last week, and the organization’s CEO Sarah Hirshland said the discussions around the timing of the next Winter Olympics that could be hosted in Salt Lake City are complex.
In this case, the USOPC is stumbling over its own success with Los Angeles having already been awarded the 2028 Summer Games in 2017 during a double allocation that also saw Paris win the right to host in 2024. Olympic host cities are typically given exclusive domestic marketing and revenue opportunities for a four year period but the LA ’28 Games and a 2030 Winter Olympics would be only 18 months apart.
If Salt Lake City were to host in 2030, the overlapping windows could impede the financial opportunities of both cities, and might violate a host city contract between LA 2028 and the USOPC.
“There is a good bit of analysis that needs to be done around the structure and the processes for any potential organizing committee, but importantly thinking about the timing of this in particular for a potential 2030 or 2034 and beyond bid – because we’re the host of the LA ’28 Games it does add a layer of complexity to the discussions,” Hirshland said during a teleconference with reporters Monday.
“And for the work we’ve been doing, and been doing really closely in collaboration with the leadership of the Salt Lake bid and our organization and frankly in conversation with the LA 28 organizing committee to be sure, we’ve really thought through those complexities and understand what would be required of all of us to collaboratively make sure that we could make a successful Games in a tight time frame being ’28 and ’30 or what a ’28 and ’34 or later might look like.
“Those are quite distinct scenarios and we’re trying to put ourselves in a position to be nimble and flexible such that we undestand what is required in any of those eventualities.”
Los Angeles has promised a no-build Olympic Games that leverages only existing or temporary venues allowing the event to turn a profit, and protecting that financial model will be a priority for organizers. Salt Lake City has a similar proposal, with venues still in place from the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Utah.
The Utah capital was elected by the USOPC in 2018 as the American nomination to bid for a future Winter Games after the city had been deemed more qualified than a rival bid from Denver. It has since been involved in a ‘continuous dialogue’ with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that puts it into contention for a future Games.
In January the IOC announced that bids from Sapporo in Japan and Pyrenees-Barcelona in Spain had joined Salt Lake City as future Games host hopefuls, and President Thomas Bach hinted he was confident a decision could be made quickly. Vancouver in Canada expressed similar interest in February.
But the global coronavirus pandemic brought all bidding to a halt and the IOC made the unprecedented decision of postponing the Tokyo 2020 Games to the summer of 2021.
USOPC Chair Susanne Lyons said with the IOC focused on delivering the Tokyo Games in July and confirming the re-election of the unopposed IOC President early next year, examining bids “at the moment it is not a priority.”
Lyons hinted that any decision on the year Salt Lake City would seek to host the Games could happen several months in the future, and the IOC’s final decision on the 2030 and 2034 host city could be months beyond that.
Beijing is scheduled to host the Winter Olympics in 2022 and Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy will jointly host the 2026 edition.
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.