US Olympic officials on Monday supported the simultaneous designation of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games venues as part of possible new changes to the bid process and expressed excitement at Salt Lake City’s chances of hosting again.
But during a conversation with the news media, US Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland stopped supporting Salt Lake City as a permanent host as part of a possible Winter Games rotation.
The comments come after the International Olympic Committee’s surprise announcement last week that a final decision on the 2030 venue will not be made next year after all because more time is needed to study the impact of climate change on the Winter Games.
IOC President Thomas Bach said there could now be a double award of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games – something he had rejected – “to buy some time to then establish a solid rotation system” for future Winter Games.
Before the IOC introduced a new, less formal application process, hosts were nominated seven years in advance. No timeline was set for the IOC to vote between Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada, plus any new competitors that might emerge.
Bach, who previously ruled out a double appointment because his term is coming to an end and he does not want to tie his successor to a 2034 site, said it was “too late” to wait until a new president took office in 2026.
Both Hirshland and outgoing USOPC Chair Susanne Lyons expressed optimism Monday about the upside-down selection process, saying Salt Lake City’s bid was discussed during the Colorado Springs-based organization’s final board meeting of the year.
“We believe we are in an excellent position to move forward,” Lyons said, noting that the USOPC is “still very excited” about Salt Lake City’s bid and “completely satisfied” with the changes announced by the IOC. is.
Going further, Hirshland said she was “incredibly, incredibly encouraged” by the changes.
Would Salt Lake City be part of a Winter Games rotation?
“I think we all had smiles on our faces together as we came out of this news. Salt Lake and the Utah region are so well positioned to take a long-term view and not just look at the 30’s and 34’s,” she said.
“It’s a region, a part of the country here that will always be ready to host.”
However, she later said “it would be incredibly premature to suggest that Salt Lake might or might not be a candidate in this regard” when asked how the USOPC would select a possible permanent Winter Games host.
It is the USOPC that decides which cities will bid on behalf of the United States for an Olympics, with Salt Lake City being preferred four years ago to Denver, which had hoped to hold some events in the Utah 2002 Winter Games venues.
“I think the IOC is in a very, very early stage of thinking about where the markets are, that have both the infrastructure and the climate, the weather conditions if you will, to be able to do something on a regular basis, at a regular cadence to host the Winter Games,” she said.
“I think we can say, however, that Salt Lake could be in that position at this point,” Hirshland said.
However, she emphasized, “It doesn’t mean that we understand what the details of that might look like, or that anyone in Salt Lake has explored anything beyond what we’re focusing on now, which is ’30s and ’34s.”
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Games Committee, agreed that it was too early to tell what a possible plan to rotate the Winter Games only in select cities would mean for the state .
“We’re just concentrating on ’30 and ’34 for now. But this longer-term future dialogue that we have to have in Utah and say, “Are we going to do this? How does it look like?’ Because it’s not well defined yet,” Bullock said.
He said the USOPC is “in the same boat. This is breaking news. It wasn’t really discussed in detail before, so it’s a new concept,” he said of the Winter Games rotation. “The USOPC needs to do its own homework.”
Utah “would be well positioned, however, because one of the things that the IOC cited was that all the venues have to be in place, which we uniquely have,” Bullock said, predicting that the IOC “will spend several years discussing and studying.” We hope to be part of that discussion.”
Joint award of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games
Hirshland was much more assertive about the USOPC’s position on dual awarding the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games.
“This is a simple answer…absolutely yes,” she said, adding, “I think it’s an absolute benefit to have certainty about what’s to come in the future so that a community can prepare.” Therefore we support a double award.”
Both Los Angeles and Paris wanted to host the 2024 Summer Games, but instead of requiring the losing city to reapply, the IOC awarded 2024 to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles simultaneously.
The extra lead time that dual recognition offers “requires discipline in managing budgets and costs, but we’ve seen that be pretty effective in Los Angeles, so I think there are real benefits,” Hirshland said.
The USOPC has clarified that it would be financially preferable for Salt Lake to wait until 2034 to host again, given that the LA Games are held just 18 months before the 2030 Winter Games. Salt Lake City is bidding for both 2030 and 2034.
Bullock said the bid committee “absolutely” supports naming 2030 and 2034 at the same time.
“One way to look at a potential double award is that 2030 has been delayed but 2034 may be accelerated. We see this as a great opportunity,” he said. “Hopefully we will see the double award in 2024 and we are confident that we will be one of the two to be awarded when it happens.”