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Utah Olympic official: ‘Risk is now a capital ‘R’ in coronavirus era

The Utah Olympic Park would be a key venue in any future Winter Olympics, as was the case during the Games of 2002. The leadership of the group bidding for a future Winter Olympics met on Wednesday and afterward said it is unclear when decisions will be made regarding whether Salt Lake City and the wider Olympic region will compete to host the Games in 2030 or 2034.
Park Record file photo

It remains unclear when the Winter Olympic cauldron may be reignited in the Salt Lake City region.

Perhaps as early as 2030, with opening ceremonies that year less than 10 years away, or possibly in 2034.

The leadership of the group bidding for a future Winter Olympics on Wednesday held a meeting that covered some of the work that has been ongoing in recent months, as the attention has been on combating the spread of the novel coronavirus. Officials from the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games spoke to reporters in an online briefing after the governing board’s meeting.

The committee, importantly, indicated there are ongoing talks with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee about a future Olympics. The U.S. committee in late 2018 selected Salt Lake City to be the nation’s bid city for a future Winter Olympics with Park City involved as a crucial venue community.

Fraser Bullock, the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games and previously a high-ranking figure in the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, said it has not been determined whether Salt Lake City will compete to host the Games in 2030 or 2034. He also acknowledged it is unclear when a decision will be made. Bullock said the International Olympic Committee is focused on the next Summer Olympics, which are scheduled in Tokyo in 2021 after a postponement from this year based on the concerns about the coronavirus. He said the IOC will then return to the process of selecting host cities for future Olympics.

The committee in Utah anticipates it will closely watch the Tokyo organizers and how they stage a Games in the era of the coronavirus. Bullock said the Tokyo organizing committee is “blazing new trails” as they address the budget and cut costs. The organizers in Japan also could provide lessons about addressing risks, he said.

“Risk is now a capital ‘R,’” Bullock also said as he spoke more broadly about organizing an Olympics.

Bullock, meanwhile, said the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games since February has spent time on developing a budget. He said there is more uncertainty on the revenue side of the ledger than the expense side since a Games would be held at least a decade from now. The committee is conducting the budget crafting in 2030 and 2034 dollars. He said contingencies in the budget are being increased to address the risk. Bullock also said the committee will not make compromises on the so-called field of play of the sports venues, but other expenses could be scaled back, as was the case during the Olympics of 2002.

It is unclear which other cities will also seek the Games in 2030 or 2034. Bullock indicated three other places have expressed an interest in a future Winter Olympics — Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; and a combined concept of Barcelona and the Pyrenees mountains in Spain. Sapporo and Vancouver are former Winter Olympic hosts while Barcelona once hosted a Summer Olympics.

A meeting of the full board of directors of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games will be held later, possibly in the middle of November.

The Park City area holds a key role in the blueprints for a future Winter Olympics. Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort would be competition venues under the concept, alongside the Utah Olympic Park. Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in nearby Wasatch County is also identified as a venue. The conceptual venue map is similar to the one that was crafted for the Games in 2002.


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