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“Let’s not hurry on this” IOC Executive tells Salt Lake City 2034 Winter Olympics bid

While participating on the panel of a one-hour Community Forum at Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi told organizers to pace themselves during the 10-year runup to the potential Games should the Utah capital be elected

SLC-UT Chair Catherine Raney Norman (left) with CEO Fraser Bullock and IOC Future Host Commission Chair Karl Stoss at a Community Forum in Eccles Theatre downtown Salt Lake City (GamesBids photo)
SLC-UT Chair Catherine Raney Norman (left) with CEO Fraser Bullock and IOC Future Host Commission Chair Karl Stoss at a Community Forum in Eccles Theatre downtown Salt Lake City (GamesBids photo)

Reporting from Salt Lake City, Utah – The best advice the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had for Salt Lake City’s 2034 Winter Olympics bid (SLC-UT) Thursday was to slow down.

While participating on the panel of a one-hour Community Forum at Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi told organizers to pace themselves during the 10-year runup to the potential Games should the Utah capital be elected.

“Let’s not hurry on this,” Dubi said, urging SLC-UT to use the time to evolve plans and improve as the city’s needs change.

“Don’t start too soon.” he added on day two of the four day inspection of the city’s plans.

Salt Lake City is a virtual lock to host the Games in 2034 even as the 2030 edition has yet to be awarded – but likely going to French Alps as part of a double allocation. That leaves an unprecedented 10 years to organize the event in the United States.

On Wednesday the IOC’s Future Host Commission chair Karl Stoss said the most difficult challenge would be to maintain enthusiasm over the coming decade.

Dubi also suggested that the Games be celebrated across the United States, offering opportunities to other regions.

“Why not bring these Games to the United States?” Dubi asked without specifying any details.

“You can benefit children across the United States.”

His remarks were the first constructive ideas shared by the IOC team publicly since the visit began Wednesday, a refreshing change from constant praise and accolades so far showered on the bid team and Salt Lake City’s 2002 legacy.

Some meetings have been held in private.

The Community Forum was an invitation only event and included politicians and business leaders who were able to ask questions to the panel comprised of moderator Natalie Gochnour, President and CEO of SLC-UT 2034 Fraser Bullock, Director of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs Nubia Peña, Chair of SLC-UT 2034 Catherine Raney Norman, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, IOC Future Host Commission Chair Karl Stoss and Dubi.

No significant opposition groups have been identified, and none were present at the Community Forum.

Strong engagement with communities is encouraged by the IOC as the failure to do so could cause problems down the road.

Brisbane’s bid to host the 2032 Summer Games was the first ushered through to election under new IOC bidding rules introduced in 2019. In February 2021 the city was named the first-ever preferred host in an unexpected announcement that surprised most stakeholders, including other bids that were organizing to host the same Games.

It was also pushed through under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic that made robust public engagement difficult, and the visit by the Future Host Commission was made in relative silence.

There was no rush. Like Salt Lake City, Australia was elected more than 10 years before the Games are scheduled to open.

Now Brisbane is facing massive public opposition that started when costs for the rebuild of The Gabba cricket grounds skyrocketed. The project was then canceled and replaced by an underwhelming alternate stadium to host the ceremonies – again facing public backlash.

It seems public buy-in is being sought by Australian organizers while the Games are being prepared, and government partners are disconnected and in disagreement.

In Utah public support for the Games has been polling at about 80 percent and government partners – the city, state and federal governments – are fully behind the bid.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall tried to drive home that point and differentiate her city’s bid on Tuesday at the opening session explaining “In the State of Utah we have a Democrat mayor, a Democrat County Mayor, Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor – all stand united in complete unity about the Olympic Movement – because its who we are. It has nothing to do with, and actually supersedes politics.”

Mendenhall said even though half of America can’t get along with the other half, this bid does not reflect that. It’s an important point as the United States heads into a contentious election campaign culminating just months after Salt Lake City is expected to be awarded the Games.

Dubi, looking back at the legacy of the 2002 Games said “you made it really entertaining.”

Looking towards Bullock who was CEO of the 2002 edition, Dubi added “You spent only the money you had. It worked.”

The team later traveled to Utah Olympic Park for tours of the sliding track proposed to host bobsled, skeleton and luge, and the ski jump facility.

Then it was on to Park City Mountain where the IOC Future Host Commission viewed facilities proposed for slopestyle snowboard and skiing and half pipe.

The IOC team made a stop at Deer Valley before heading to Soldier Hollow to inspect the biathlon facility that hosted a World Cup last month. The team ended work for the day at Peaks Ice Arena in Provo proposed for ice hockey.

On Tuesday evening the IOC guests are planning to take in an NBA basketball match between the Houston Rockets and hometown Jazz at the Delta Center.

The itinerary continues Friday morning at Snowbasin where Alpine events are planned.

The visit wraps up Saturday with a closing press conference.

For more photos follow us on X at @gamesbids

Check out our Liveblog for Day 2

LIVEBLOG: The IOC visits Salt Lake City 2034 – Day 2

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.

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