2026 Olympics

AP

U.S. cities eye possible 2026 Winter Olympic bid

Leave a comment

LIMA, Peru (AP) — There’s an outside shot the United States won’t have to wait 11 years to host its next Olympics.

It’s a longshot, but there’s talk in Salt Lake City, and even some in Denver, of a bid for the 2026 Winter Games, which take place two years before the Summer Olympics return to Los Angeles.

The same country hosting back-to-back Olympics hasn’t happened since before World War II, but as this round of bidding has shown, rules are made to be changed.

Five people familiar with internal discussions in both cities told The Associated Press that preliminary talks have taken place about what it would take to bring the Winter Games back to the United States for the first time since Salt Lake hosted in 2002. None of the people wanted their names used because the discussions are preliminary, and because the U.S. Olympic Committee wants to stay focused on the Los Angeles bid for the 2028 Olympics.

“Salt Lake City would enjoy hosting the Games again,” said Fraser Bullock, a key player in Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics. “The focus at this point is on LA, as it should be.”

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee will award the 2024 Summer Games to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles.

Both were in the running for 2024. But realizing he had two top-tier candidates, IOC president Thomas Bach spearheaded a rules change to approve the awarding of the 2028 Games, as well. It helped prevent a potentially embarrassing bid process for those games. At the same time, Bach led a streamlining of the bid process for the 2026 Winter Games, in part to avoid an unwanted repeat of the 2022 bidding when the only bidders were from China and Kazakhstan.

“The sooner the Winter Olympics can come back to the U.S., the better,” said Max Cobb, the president of U.S. Biathlon. “We’ve got a fantastic set of venues in Utah that are still in use and more or less at world-class standard.”

The Salt Lake City Games were marred by a bidding scandal that resulted in several IOC members losing their positions for taking bribes.

But with help of Mitt Romney and others, the Olympics were saved, while Salt Lake and Park City have stood as prime examples of the sort of legacy that modern Olympics are supposed to leave in a region. There’s an eight-lane interstate running from the Salt Lake airport, which was upgraded for the Olympics, to Park City, which is the home of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Park City is the host of key U.S. training centers for freestyle skiing, speedskating and cross country skiing.

Overall, the area has hosted about 75 World Cup and world-championship events in winter sports since the Olympic cauldron was extinguished more than 15 years ago.

Denver would have a steeper hill to climb. Although it’s bigger than Salt Lake City, the mountains are farther away, and more infrastructure would be needed.

“We would welcome an invitation to discuss, in depth, what it would take for Denver to become a Winter Olympic host city,” said Matthew Payne, executive director of the Denver Sports Commission.

Denver also stands as the only city to once be awarded the Olympics — the 1976 Winter Games — only to turn them back after public opinion turned against hosting the event.

The public support piece is as crucial as ever, especially in the wake of a number of cities pulling out of the running for 2022 and 2024 because of poor response from citizens and failed referendums.

One of the few potential candidates for 2026 — Innsbruck, Austria, which has hosted two previous Winter Olympics — has a referendum scheduled for Oct. 15 that has the potential to scuttle a possible bid.

Calgary and Sion, Switzerland, have also shown interest in hosting. Salt Lake City and Denver are officially on the sideline, though after Wednesday, things could heat up. The 2026 Games are next on the docket — and the only Olympics through 2028 still in search of a host.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 2026 Olympic bidding news

Austria looks into multi-country 2026 Winter Olympic bid

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A feasibility study has suggested Innsbruck could host the 2026 Winter Olympics on a budget of 1.175 billion euros ($1.3 billion), but the Austrian city will need the approval of its residents before deciding on a bid.

“If we stick to the strategy from the feasibility study, it could become doable and affordable games,” Innsbruck Mayor Christine Oppitz-Ploerer said Wednesday during a presentation of the 137-page report detailing financial, infrastructural and economic aspects of a potential candidacy.

The study said different sports could be spread over existing venues in the Tyrol region and in southern Germany, like biathlon in Hochfilzen, Nordic combined in Seefeld, and speedskating in Inzell, Germany. It would prevent Innsbruck from having to build new permanent infrastructure.

Also, the concept refrains from building a central Olympic Village as athletes would be located close to their respective venues.

The dispersion of events is possible under Agenda 2020, the IOC’s reform program that allows more flexibility in hosting the games, including the possibility of using venues in other cities, and even in neighboring countries.

Tyrol governor Guenther Platter said the study provided “a good chance” for Innsbruck to go ahead. Platter added he was planning to start an information campaign ahead of a referendum among the province’s residents, which will be held parallel to the Austrian parliamentary elections on Oct. 15.

In 2013, the last time Austrian citizens were asked about out hosting Olympics, Vienna had to drop plans to bid for the 2028 Summer Games after more than 70 percent of its residents rejected the idea.

Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, the only Olympics ever held in Austria. No city has hosted the Winter Olympics three times.

Austria bid for the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics but never finished higher than third in International Olympic Committee member voting.

The next two Winter Olympics are in East Asia, which could boost the chances of a 2026 European bid, though Paris is likely to host the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympics.

The lone confirmemd 2026 Winter Olympic bid so far is from Sion, Switzerland. Canada, Japan and Sweden have had various levels of exploration.

The 2026 Winter Olympic host city is expected to be chosen by an IOC members vote in 2019.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 2026 Olympic bidding news

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sweden drops 2026 Winter Olympic bid

Sweden
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The city of Stockholm says it won’t bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Karin Wanngard, the city official in charge of finances, says the reason is because the International Olympic Committee will not be able to report how big the financial contribution to the host city will be.

She says the figures “will arrive at the earliest in November.”

This means that time will be too short to get enough analysis for the issues raised by several actors,” said the Swedish lawmaker, whose Social Democratic Party had been supportive of hosting the event.

“We Social Democrats have always thought that the Olympic Games are important for Stockholm’s growth and development,” Wanngard said in a statement, adding there was little backing for the event. “Unfortunately, we are alone to have this position about the Olympic Games.”

Swedish Sports Confederation chairman Bjorn Eriksson said he and his organization “fully respect the decision as we also believe in a realistic budget and a sustainable economy.”

Sports Minister Gabriel Wikstrom also supported the decision, adding that the Social Democratic-led government was “ready to handle requests for financial guarantees.”

“We have also been clear that it is Stockholm’s city that must make its decision first,” he told Sweden news agency TT.

The news comes six days after the Swedish Olympic Committee named a CEO for the 2026 bid.

In January, the committee said that Stockholm staging the 2026 Winter Olympics was “possible and desirable” and that a formal bid was expected in March 2018.

In 2015, Stockholm pulled out of the race for the 2022 Winter Games after Swedish politicians refused to give financial backing. Swedish politicians were uncomfortable because of concerns over costs, the environment, post-Games use of venues, the environment and other issues.

The early 2026 bid plan called for 80 percent of the events in Stockholm, while most of the Alpine competitions would be in the northern resort of Are, more than 600 kilometers (400 miles) from the capital. A few skiing events would be in Falun, 215 kilometers (130 miles) northwest from there.

The 2026 Winter Olympics have one bidder — Sion, Switzerland.

Cities in Austria, Canada, Japan and have also discussed potential 2026 bids, as has Lillehammer, Norway, the 1994 Winter Olympic host. The U.S. is not expected to bid for the 2026 Winter Games.

The next two Winter Olympics will be in East Asia in PyeongChang in 2018 and Beijing in 2022, giving a European or North American city a greater opening to be the 2026 host.

The 2026 Olympic host city is expected to be chosen from an International Olympic Committee members vote in 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 2026 Olympics coverage