Reno-Tahoe Drops Winter Olympic Bid, Leaving Salt Lake City And Denver For December Nomination

A group representing the Reno-Tahoe Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid said Monday that it has turned down an invitation from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to bid for a future Olympics.

Olympic Rings hang cliffside overlooking PyeongChang 2018 Ski Jump venue (GamesBids Photo)
Olympic Rings hang cliffside overlooking PyeongChang 2018 Ski Jump venue (GamesBids Photo)

In a statement, Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition representatives said the decision to drop out of the process was not made “lightly” – but was a result of a decision that the Games would not be financially feasible.

Jon Killoran, CEO of the group said “We have always spoken of the value of the process”

“Over the past decade the pursuit of our Olympic and Paralympic Games dream opened the door to host World Championships, World Congresses of Sport, World Cup events and other elite competitions, which would not have been possible without the tireless work of our board, staff, donors and stakeholders to raise the world-wide awareness of the Reno-Tahoe, Las Vegas and Nevada brands.”

“We have maintained from the start that a Reno-Tahoe bid would have to make sense economically, environmentally and socially,” Reno-tahoe bid Chair Brian Krolicki said.

“Given the parameters and conditions presented, we cannot make the numbers pass muster. To continue, at this point, would be untenable and unwise.”

Detailed responses to a USOC questionnaire were due on November 9.

The Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition has been in the hunt for the Games for several years, and has waited while the USOC instead focused on bids for the Summer Olympics.

Last year Los Angeles was awarded the 2028 Summer Games as part of a double-allocation that saw Paris win the 2024 Games.  That opened the door for a U.S.-based Winter Olympic as early as 2030.

But that also closed the door to Reno-Tahoe, Krolicki said.

“Budget models for the Reno-Tahoe bid are based on a traditional seven-year marketing and sponsorship cycle and the RTWGC does not see an alternative business model to make a significantly shorter time span work.”

With the LA 2028 Games occurring two-years later, a U.S.-based Winter Games bid would need to relinquish some sponsorship revenue to the Los Angeles project, and it wouldn’t get the full seven-year benefit.

But with four of seven cities already out of the 2026 race – and Calgary facing a Tuesday plebiscite that could end the Canadian bid, the IOC may run out of options.  It may look to the USOC for help.

Last month the USOC jump-started an abbreviated domestic bid process for “a future Winter Olympic bid,” and Reno-Tahoe along with Denver and Salt Lake City were invited to participate.  The three cities have been actively engaged with the USOC over a potential bid.

A delegation from the USOC is expected to examine venues in Salt Lake City Wednesday, the city that is considered the front runner for the nation nomination.  Last year a poll revealed 89 percent of Utahns would support an Olympics that involve the reuse of most facilities built for the 2002 Games.

USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said “I’d like to thank the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition for participating in our process up to this point.”

“The leaders in Nevada and California have demonstrated an incredible commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic community and the athletes we all serve. The USOC looks forward to continuing to work with RTWGC to identify new opportunities to take advantage.”

More to come…

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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