A 2022 Olympic bid is a no-go, but what about 2026? | ParkRecord.com

A 2022 Olympic bid is a no-go, but what about 2026?

Jay Hamburger The Park Record

Utah last winter celebrated the tenth anniversary of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The twentieth anniversary, in 2022, will not be celebrated with another Olympics in the state.

The United States Olympic Committee decided it would not pursue an American bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, a Games that the state had shown interest in hosting. Instead the national committee wants to focus its efforts on bids for the Summer Olympics in 2024, the Winter Olympics in 2026 or both of them.

People with ties to Park City involved in the discussions about Utah hosting another Winter Olympics were not discouraged by the United States Olympic Committee’s decision about 2022. They said they now have more time to craft a bid if the country seeks the Olympics in 2026. They indicated the 20 years between 2002 and 2022 might have been too short a span of time for the Olympics to return to the same city.

"That action actually increases Utah’s chance of hosting again an Olympics in the future," said Colin Hilton, the president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, which is the organization that oversees the Utah Olympic Park and the Utah Olympic Oval.

Hilton was a high-ranking staffer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee that put on the Olympics in 2002. He is a member of an exploratory committee that is researching the state’s ability to host another Olympics.

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The exploratory committee in August expects to submit a report to Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. The report will likely be made public by the end of August, Hilton said, noting the exploratory committee is finalizing its recommendations.

The completion of the report did not hinge on the decision by the United States Olympic Committee. The report will offer a detailed assessment of the state’s facilities and infrastructure.

The International Olympic Committee will award the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015 and the 2026 Games four years later.

The Park City area hosted approximately half of the athletic competitions during the Olympics in 2002 and the community was one of the hotspots for Games revelry. Main Street was turned into a pedestrian-only celebration zone that attracted giant crowds. Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park were important competition venues.

Park City would almost certainly play a major role in a future bid. Each of the three mountain resorts could have an interest in hosting events and the Utah Olympic Park — where the ski jumps and bobsled track are located — would again be one of the busiest venues.

Mayor Dana Williams, one of the City Hall officials monitoring the discussions of the state’s exploratory committee, said hosting the Games in 2022 seemed to be a "long shot" for Utah. He said he is pleased the United States Olympic Committee made its decision against a 2022 bid before the state’s efforts expanded.

"I’m glad this happened sooner rather than later," Williams, who took office just weeks before the Olympics in 2002, said.

Park City Councilman Andy Beerman, who has also tracked the exploratory committee, said he is slightly disappointed a bid will not be mounted for 2022 but the decision was reasoned. He said there could be plans for improvements in the state’s infrastructure in the intervening years that would make an Olympic bid more attractive. He mentioned, perhaps, upgrades in the transit system along the Wasatch Front and in the Park City area.

"I think there was some excitement. Hopefully that will stay alive," Beerman said.