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Utah’s Olympic chances just got better, but no decisions expected until late 2023

AP — Salt Lake City olympic bid, Olympic Oval in Kearns, Dec. 18, 2018
Rick Bowmer
The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018. Salt Lake City is among an increasingly small group of cities around the globe that has the venues needed for winter sports and the willingness to take on the costly task of hosting the Olympics.

The odds of a Utah Olympics in either 2030 or 2034 got a little bit better.

Citing cost concerns, the bid for Vancouver, Canada lost support from the British Columbia provincial government on Oct. 27. If Vancouver isn’t in the running, that leaves Salt Lake City and Sapporo, Japan competing for the honor of hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics.

The development isn’t changing how the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games is pursuing its bid.

At a Nov. 1 strategic board meeting, committee President and CEO Fraser Bullock said yes, the chances for a second Utah Olympics are better now, but the decision is still in the hands of the International Olympic Committee.

“Obviously, with fewer cities competing it opens up more opportunity for us,” he said. “But I don’t know whether that’s in 2030 or 2034. We’ll just have to see how the IOC sorts that out. But we feel confident and hopeful that we’ll get one of those two games.”

Los Angeles is slated to host the 2028 Summer Games, and hosting back-to-back Olympics in the same country presents a logistical and marketing challenge. Both the Utah committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee have said they prefer being awarded 2034.

“LA 28 is the top priority,” said Bullock. “They need to be successful. [2030 would be] a little more challenging, but we’d be excited to do 2030 or 2034.”

Utah is prepared for 2030 if the IOC makes that decision, Bullock said. The committee has been busy securing venue contracts and conducting community outreach sessions over the last year.

“We could not be more pleased with where we sit,” added USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “We could not be more pleased with the partnership with Utah.”

Another Salt Lake City-hosted Olympics would be a boon for American athletes, many of whom either live in Utah or spend a large portion of the year training here.

“It really would be a home game,” said the president and CEO of Park City-based U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Sophie Goldschmidt. “Not just even in the U.S., but having it in their backyard. Depending on the time of year, almost half of our athletes spend significant time here. That would be amazing.”

Her organization does not prefer one year over another but is champing at the bit.

“The sooner, the better, but I think either would be great,” she said. “I think if they’re announced at a similar time, they can both be incredibly impactful.”

Utah could know whether it’s a “preferred candidate” for 2030 as soon as December. The IOC is expected to announce a host city for 2030 and possibly 2034 in September or October of 2023.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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