If the U.S. bids for the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, it will be with Salt Lake City, the first time the country would bid for the Winter Games since the Utah capital hosted in 2002.
“The USOC board of directors has expressed interest in bidding for future Winter Games but has not determined when a formal bid may occur,” the USOC said in a statement Friday. “This selection affords the USOC and Salt Lake City the opportunity to move forward with the International Olympic Committee’s ongoing dialogue phase.”
Salt Lake City was chosen over Denver — expected given its stronger local venue plan. Denver also has the stigma of being awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics and handing them back to the IOC two years later. A third candidate, the Reno-Tahoe region, withdrew from the race last month.
International Olympic Committee members are expected to vote on the 2030 host city in 2023. There are no formal confirmed bids. Nor is there a bid process with the Games so far away.
“We have not yet made a determination about that bid and the timing of that bid,” USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said. “The work that we’ll do is continue to refine the possibility, refine the plan for a potential bid, but at this point there is no determination nor is there an active process of bidding that will take place. In some regards, we have the luxury of some time.”
Lillehammer, Norway, the 1994 Winter Olympic host, was reportedly planning a 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympic bid in March, but there has been no recent news on its progress. Most Olympic bids are finalized one to two years in advance of the IOC vote.
The 2026 Winter Olympic bid race is closed with two finalists — Stockholm, Sweden, and a joint Italian bid between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Milan. IOC members will vote in June. That means North America will go at least 20 years between hosting the Winter Olympics, the continent’s largest gap in 50 years.
The U.S. is already co-hosting the 2026 World Cup in various cities and holding the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
A Salt Lake City bid could reuse many facilities from the 2002 Winter Games: the Utah Jazz arena hosted figure skating and short track speed skating, the University of Utah’s football stadium held Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Utah Olympic Oval in nearby Kearns had long-track speed skating and skiing and snowboarding events were in Park City, a 45-minute drive east of the capital.
The 2002 Olympics are best remembered for the gold-medal performances of figure skater Sarah Hughes, the Canadian men’s and women’s hockey teams and short track speed skater Apolo Ohno.
The legacy also includes a figure skating scandal that resulted in a second gold medal awarded to Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier and an overhaul of the sport’s judging system. Plus, a bribery scandal involving benefits to IOC members who voted in 1995 to award the Games to Salt Lake City.
The city was also a bid finalist in 1972 and 1998.
“We are truly humbled to be the choice to represent the United States in a bid for a future Olympic Games,” Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski said in a press release. “This decision affirms Salt Lake City as the capital of winter sports in America, and the tremendous amount of work we have done to continue our Olympic legacy for future generations.”
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