Winter Olympics: Park City, Salt Lake City seen as 2026 contingency
The Winter Olympic efforts in Salt Lake City and the wider games region are focused on the event in 2030.
But with the field of potential hosts for the Olympics of 2026 dwindling to just two places — Stockholm and a joint Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo — there is persistent chatter that the United States Olympic Committee could forward a candidate city for those games if the efforts in Sweden and Italy are disrupted by financial or political issues.
It seems to be an unlikely scenario with the USOC planning to stage the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The USOC and organizers in Los Angeles want to focus on the finances of those games without the competition for revenues with an Olympics in the U.S. two years earlier.
People involved in the efforts in Utah, however, continue to see a bid for the Olympics in 2026 as a possibility even if it is an unlikely one. If the USOC on Friday selects Salt Lake City as the bid city for a future games, probably the event in 2030, there could be a possibility the city would also be mentioned in the context of the Olympics in 2026. Such a scenario would depend on the status of the Swedish and Italian bids. Salt Lake City and Denver are competing to become the U.S. bid city for a future games.
Colin Hilton, the president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and a member of the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee, speculated Salt Lake City could become a “contingency” for the Olympics in 2026 if the capital city is selected as the bid city for a future games.
The International Olympic Committee is expected to select a host for the 2026 Olympics in 2019. It is not yet clear, though, whether a host for the games in 2030 will be selected then as well.
Salt Lake City and the wider Olympic region appears suited to be a contingency for the 2026 Olympics even as it pursues the games of four years later. The Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee sees the state’s blueprints for a future games as superior to any competitor. The backers of another Olympics argue the venues needed for an Olympics exist and remain in use at World Cup levels. They also say the transportation infrastructure, crucial to the logistical aspects of a games, is largely in place and the Olympic region is prepared for the crowds. Any games effort for 2026, though, would involve a significantly condensed timeline for an organizing committee and the other entities that would hold key roles like local governments and the competition venues. Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park are identified as venues in the state’s Olympic plans.
Mayor Andy Beerman said the focus remains on the 2030 event, but the community would be ready for an Olympics four years earlier if that scenario were to arise.
“Park City could host a games nearly anytime. We’ve kept all the infrastructure in place,” Beerman said.
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