IOC visit to Salt Lake City starts golden and continues with endless praise for 2034 Olympic bid plans

The IOC stayed on script, reiterating that the four day visit is not merely a formality but a required exercise following the selection of the Utah capital as the preferred host for 2034 among Sweden, Switzerland and potentially other regions

Scoreboard at University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium welcome IOC Future Host Commission April 10, 2024 (GamesBids Photo)
Scoreboard at University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium welcomes IOC Future Host Commission April 10, 2024 (GamesBids Photo)

Reporting from Salt Lake City, Utah – The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Future Host Commission (FHC) was welcomed to Salt Lake City with iconic downtown buildings lit up gold on the eve of the first meeting with bid and government officials.

On Wednesday morning the IOC and the Salt Lake City Winter Games bid committee (SLC-UT) met at Rice-Eccles Stadium at Utah University for an introductory meeting and presentation that was open to the media. Later, more constructive planning discussions proceeded behind closed doors.

The IOC stayed on script, reiterating that the four day visit is not merely a formality but a required exercise following the selection of the Utah capital as the preferred host for 2034 among Sweden, Switzerland and potentially other regions.

This visit “is very important to the IOC and for the Future Host Commission,” Commission chair Karl Stoss told reporters during a break from the morning meeting. 

“All the different parties have now the chance to go into a deeper dive and a deeper discussion with Salt Lake City and maybe to help them.”

The IOC delegation has members from sport federations and national Olympic committees as well as athlete representatives. Stoss said the discussions are an opportunity to be constructive and to optimize the Games plans.

Stoss said the Commission was verifying that the proposed venues – most from the 2002 Games – remain at acceptable standards and still provide the proper spectator capacity. He also said that the Commission can share advice that will “save a lot of money.”

It was made clear by all parties Wednesday that this bid is the right choice for 2034 and it will likely get the nod from the IOC’s Executive Board, and then the general membership.

“We have a very good feeling,” Stoss said.

“This one is the right concept, to bring the athletes together in an Olympic Village and then very close to the venues.”

Bid officials say that athletes will be no more than one hour from the Olympic Village.

For contrast, the IOC elected Italy’s Milan-Cortina bid for the 2026 Winter Games with a widespread venue plan across Northern Italy that will require multiple Olympic Villages. At the time the IOC Evaluation Commission said the regional Games concept was acceptable due to the sustainable use of existing and temporary venues.

The delegation was given a tour of Rice-Eccles Stadium that is proposed to once again stage the opening and closing ceremonies – the 2002 cauldron remains just outside the entrance of the facility.

Both teams assembled on the football-configured field for a group photo and Stoss once again offered praise.

“It’s an incredible stadium perfect for closing and opening ceremony,” he said.

Later the IOC delegation took a ride on a bid theme wrapped light rail vehicle, arriving at the Delta Center arena for a tour of the venue proposed for figure skating and short track speed skating.
Stoss said the experience was “Great, great.”
He went on to say the transit service was “much better” than in 2002 and quipped that the only way to improve would be to offer “cheaper tickets.”
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has planned several upgrades over the next 10 years prior the the opening of the Games, but UTA Executive Director Jay Fox assured that the work is not required to host the Games. The cost of the work has not been revealed but Fox said the UTA will rely on government partners for financial support that might be more readily available if the Games are awarded.
Fox suggested that the current capacity is sufficient to host the Games, but that the 10 year leadup would give plenty of time to deliver improvement that the city needs.
The comprehensive visit by the IOC’s Future Host Commission is the first for a Winter Games bid since the IOC established the entity as part of widespread bidding reforms in 2019. A team of experts traveled to Brisbane before the Australian city was awarded the 2032 Summer Games in 2021 but that was carried out amid the COVID-19 pandemic when health restrictions were still complicating international travel.

Previously, similarly organized evaluation commissions carried out formalized site inspections to all cities accepted as candidates. Those meetings became the basis of evaluation reports that were used by the IOC membership to casts ballots for the winner.

Detailed reports will still be generated under the new process but these will represent the due diligence IOC members expect before agreeing to elect the Utah capital to host the 2034 Games.

This week stakeholders on both sides of the table will work together to develop plans and discussions will help build the contents of the host agreement that will be signed when the membership rubberstamps the bid at a Session July 24 in Paris.

For more photos follow us on X at @gamesbids

Check out our Liveblog for Day 1

LIVEBLOG: The IOC visits Salt Lake City 2034 – Day 1

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.

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