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Salt Lake City is potential U.S. bid for 2030 Winter Olympics

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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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Reno-Tahoe drops 2030 Winter Olympic bid

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If the U.S. bids for the 2030 Winter Olympics, it will not be with Reno-Tahoe.

The Nevada/California region ended its pursuit of becoming a U.S. bid city, at least for an Olympics in the near future. The U.S. is expected to bid for 2030, and the U.S. Olympic Committee last year named Reno-Tahoe, Denver and Salt Lake City as cities that expressed interest.

“We have maintained from the start that a Reno-Tahoe bid would have to make sense economically, environmentally and socially,” Brian Krolicki, chairman of the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, said in a press release. “Given the parameters and conditions presented, we cannot make the numbers pass muster. To continue, at this point, would be untenable and unwise.”

The coalition noted the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games having exclusive Olympic marketing rights from 2019 through its Closing Ceremony as an obstacle.

The region hosted the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif. Since, the U.S. has hosted two Winter Olympics — in Lake Placid in 1980 and Salt Lake City in 2002. It hasn’t hosted a Summer or Winter Games since, its longest drought since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

The International Olympic Committee vote in 2019 to choose the 2026 Winter Olympic host city could impact a potential U.S. 2030 bid. The remaining 2026 bidders are Calgary, Stockholm and an Italian bid with Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Calgary’s bid hinges on a public vote Tuesday. North America has never hosted back-to-back Winter Olympics.

Olympic host cities are traditionally chosen seven years beforehand.

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Lillehammer plans Winter Olympic bid

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Lillehammer, the charming Norwegian village that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics, plans a bid for either the 2026 or 2030 Winter Games involving several Norwegian cities, according to Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang.

The report quotes Olympic downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal and former IOC member Gerhard Heiberg of Norway.

Lillehammer, which also hosted the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics, published a feasibility report about a potential Winter Olympic bid last year.

It could share an Olympic bid with events also being held in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim.

The IOC said last month that four cities have entered the initial dialogue phase for potential 2026 Olympic bids: Calgary, Stockholm, Sion, Switzerland and Sapporo, Japan.

Cities have until the end of March to enter the dialogue phase, after which no new cities will be accepted for 2026 bids. But the previously named cities’ bids could hinge on public votes, which led to the demise of recent Summer and Winter Games bids.

IOC president Thomas Bach has said he hopes the Winter Olympics can return to a more traditional location after PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022, which USOC chairman Larry Probst called “code for Europe or North America.”

If Norway holds its bid for 2030, and another European city is chosen the 2026 Olympic host, it could make a Lillehammer 2030 bid more difficult to succeed.

The U.S. prefers to bid for the 2030 Olympics — with one of Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno-Tahoe — but would consider bidding earlier if the 2026 and 2030 Olympics will be awarded together like the 2024 and 2028 Games were to Paris and Los Angeles last year.

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

Oslo withdrew its bid for the 2022 Olympics in 2014, after Norway’s government voted not to financially back it.

No Norwegian bid has been a finalist for an Olympic host city vote since Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Games.

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