Salt Lake City Council Votes To Pursue Winter Olympic Bid Ahead Of USOC Deadline

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, Salt Lake City’s Council approved a resolution supporting an “expression of interest” agreement with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).  The document formalizes the Utah Capital’s interest in submitting a bid to host an Olympic Winter Games in the near future.

The USOC tours the Utah Olympic Oval with members of the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games Bid (Twitter/SLC2030)

The USOC tours the Utah Olympic Oval with members of the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games Bid (Twitter/SLC2030)

The resolution was strongly supported by Mayor Jackie Biskupski.

“I am enthusiastically supportive and hope we’re able to have another opportunity to host,” Councilor Charlie Luke said, according to Deseret News.

The USOC has set a Friday deadline for the submission of bid documents from Salt Lake City and rival candidate Denver as both cities vie for the single nomination to bid on the international stage.  A Reno-Tahoe bid dropped out of the running earlier this month explaining that the timing wasn’t right for its project that has been in the works for several years.

The USOC suddenly announced an abbreviated bid process in October, and earlier this month delegates toured venues in the two candidate cities.  A winner will likely be declared at a Board of Directors’ meeting to be held December 13 and 14.

“The USOC and the (International Olympic Committee) and others, they want to know they’re going someplace where they have significant support,” Robbins said.

Jeff Robbins, CEO of the Utah Sports Commission underlined the importance of the resolution ahead of the USOC’s decision explaining “The USOC and the IOC and others, they want to know they’re going someplace where they have significant support.”

In April, the USOC filed a letter-of-intent to bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics as seven other cities were entering the 2026 race.  Los Angeles has been elected to host the 2028 Summer Games, guaranteeing the city exclusive marketing and sponsorship opportunities in the run-up – precluding the Utah capital from hosting any earlier.

But with only two cities remaining in the race, both still working out government guarantees, there is a possibility there will be no candidates left on a June election ballot.  With nominations for the 2030 Games still three years away, it seems the USOC’s hurry-up process is designed to position an alternate choice for the IOC in 2026 if all other options fail.

USOC Tours Facilities In Denver, Salt Lake City Ahead Of Selection Of Winter Olympic Bid City In December

The USOC has made its intentions clear, stating recently that it is preparing to bid for the 2030 or subsequent editions of the Games only.  But minutes taken from the September Board of Directors’ meeting captured discussions about a possible interest in 2026.

Salt Lake City has support from the state governor, and polling last year showed 89 percent across Utah backed a bid.  Organizers say the project will be extremely efficient, leveraging most of the well-maintained venues built for the 2002 Games.

Denver won the right to host the 1976 Winter Games but Colorado voters later rejected financing for the project in a referendum, and Innsbruck went on to stage the Games instead.

Beijing is set to host the 2022 Games, making the Chinese Capital the first city to host both Summer and Winter editions.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil