Winter Olympic bid: ‘Our odds for hosting a future Games increased’

The Olympic rings are on display in the mountain resort of Whistler, Canada, where competitions were held during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver, Canada, no longer has the support of the provincial government of British Columbia for a bid for the Winter Olympics in 2030, effectively leaving Salt Lake City and Sapporo, Japan, as contenders for those Games. | Courtesy of Jay Hamburger

Vancouver, Canada, no longer has the backing of the provincial government of British Columbia for a bid for the Winter Olympics in 2030, effectively leaving Salt Lake City and the wider region as one of just two current candidates for the event in eight years.

Media reports this week in Canada indicated there was concern within the government of British Columbia about the projected cost of a Games. Vancouver, the host of the Games in 2010, was one of three cities that had been pursuing the 2030 event. Salt Lake City and Sapporo, Japan, the 1972 Winter Olympic host, remain in contention. Vancouver was seen as an especially formidable competitor with the facilities there remaining in use just more than a decade afterward.

Officials involved in the Salt Lake City efforts closely watched the reports in Canada as they continue to craft the region’s bid. The focus is on the Games of 2030 or those of four years later. The International Olympic Committee is expected to select a host for the 2030 Games sometime in 2023.

“Our odds for hosting a future Games increased,” Fraser Bullock, the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, said in an interview on Friday.

He said it would be “immensely challenging” at this point for another city to launch a bid from scratch for the Olympics of 2030.

The committee has been engaged in long-running talks with the IOC about the bid. The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games on Tuesday will gather for a meeting that was scheduled prior to the movement in British Columbia. The leadership of the committee will almost certainly address the topic on Tuesday in some fashion.

Bullock said the decision in British Columbia illustrates the difficulties of mounting a bid for a Games and he applauded the efforts there during the bid.

“It’s a hard undertaking,” he said, adding that he is grateful for any city that bids since doing so supports the overall Olympic movement.

The discussions about a second Games in the state have been focused on 2030 or 2034. Some of the talks have involved whether the U.S. should host consecutive Olympics in 2028, when the Summer Olympics are scheduled in Los Angeles, and 2030 since the two Games would be raising monies at the same time. The prospects of back-to-back Games in the U.S. remain challenging, Bullock said.

The Park City area would play a significant role in a future Games, as was the case during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park are identified as competition venues, as is Soldier Hollow in nearby Wasatch County. The Park City area would also be critical to transportation, security and celebration plans.

City Hall and the County Courthouse this fall are conducting a series of community conversations about the Olympic efforts. Opinions have been mixed as some welcome the opportunity to host a second Games in one of the nation’s winter-sports capitals while others worry about the impacts of another Olympics on issues like affordability.

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