Olympic party to kick off Pioneer Day festivities before the sun is even up

Utah’s bid easily moves into final stage, but problems with France’s 2030 campaign leaves some intrigue.

Updated: The day may start early — really early — for the thousands who opt to camp out along the route of the Days of ’47 Parade this year.

Utah’s bid for the 2034 Winter Olympics easily got the nod from the International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Commission on Wednesday and the state is expected to officially be named the host of those Games on July 24 — the same date as the state’s Pioneer Day holiday. The vote is scheduled for around 11 a.m. in Paris … which is 3 a.m. in Salt Lake City.

Despite the early hour, the local organizing committee hopes Utahns will celebrate the honor in real-time. The IOC’s vote will be livestreamed at the Salt Lake City & County Building and other festivities are being planned around the event. The downtown celebration may also be livestreamed back to the IOC meeting in Paris.

Thousands of people will likely be in the area anyway. It is tradition for people to camp out alongside the route of the annual Days of ’47 Parade that commemorates the holiday.

“July 24th holds a very special [place] in the hearts of Utahns, and that day is about to get even more prominent,” Gov. Spencer Cox told the Legislature’s Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Coordination Committee on Tuesday.

“Sadly, it will be about 3 in the morning. But for those who don’t sleep, like me, …it’ll be a little bit of a party.”

Cox will not be stateside for the celebration, however. The State of Utah has been named the financial guarantor for the Games, meaning it is on the hook for any cost overruns. And Cox, who will be part of a large Utah delegation traveling to Paris for a final presentation to the IOC, said he will be prepared to affirm that responsibility for the state if given the opportunity.

“I’m ready and eager,” he said, “to sign the Olympic host contract on that day.”

While Cox would be wise to pack a trusty pen, the moment of celebration is not yet guaranteed.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox celebrate at City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, following the announcement by the International Olympic Committee of Salt Lake as a "preferred host" of the 2034 Olympic Games following an IOC live broadcast from Paris.

On Wednesday, the IOC’s Future Host Commission recommended France and Utah, respectively, to host the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake City impressed the commission during an April site visit. Following the visit, Commission Chair Karl Stoss deemed Salt Lake City’s bid an example for other prospective hosts to follow. He had similarly glowing words for the bid Wednesday.

“I think Salt Lake City,” Stoss said, “would be ready to start the Olympic Winter Games tomorrow.”

It may not be tomorrow, but after the IOC put conditions on France’s bid, the Olympics could come to Utah sooner than expected. The IOC said France must submit a “Games delivery guarantee” as well as confirmation of a public financial partnership between France’s government and the two regions in which the Games are slated to be held: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Those conditions must be met before the IOC executive board meeting on July 24.

France lacked a firm venue plan during the Future Host Commission’s site visit there in April. Political turmoil has also roiled the country recently and is a factor in the guarantees not yet being signed, Stoss said Wednesday.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games has said it will be “willing and able” to host either edition. In recent years, however, it has voiced a preference for 2034 in order to distance itself and potential sponsors from the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Following Wednesday’s announcements, SLC-UT President and CEO Fraser Bullock and Communications Director Tom Kelly spoke with the press on a Zoom call while wearing caps emblazoned with “SLC-UT 2034.″ Bullock said Salt Lake City’s bid committee hasn’t spoken with the IOC about hosting in 2030 since Utah was moved forward and was the preferred candidate for 2034.

“There have been zero discussions, not even a word discussed, about 2030,” he said. “Because we are the preferred host for 2034. That’s it. That’s our focus. And we just love the fit.”

Strong political backing and a reliance on private sponsors and ticket sales over public money have been keys to the success of Utah’s bid.

On the eve of the Future Host Commission’s recommendation, local organizers seized the opportunity to meet with the Olympic legislative committee to emphasize the support they’ve gotten from city and county mayors, the Legislature and the governor.

“The reason we’re the only bid that’s viable right now isn’t because other places didn’t want to [host]. They did,” Cox said. “Lots of other cities wanted this, but they didn’t have the political support necessary.”

Cox also referenced a poll that showed 79% of Utahns support hosting another Olympics.

“That’s unheard of. It’s unparalleled,” Cox said. “You can’t get 79% of Americans or Utahns to agree that the sky is blue right now. And yet, we agree on this.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) International Olympic CommitteeÕs Future Host Commission, and IOC and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic leaders visit Snowbasin Ski Resort, on Friday, April 12, 2024.

The Legislature last year passed a pair of resolutions declaring its support for the return of the Games and authorizing the state to enter into contracts and make assurances to bring them back to Utah. At the same time it established the Winter Games Coordination Committee, which on Tuesday unanimously voted to express continued backing for the effort.

In a busy week for the local Olympic movement, SLC-UT on Monday unveiled its projected budget for the 2034 Games. In their presentation to the committee Tuesday, and in response to questions by Rep. Kera Birkeland, they stressed that not a cent of their $2.83 billion operating budget nor their $4 billion total budget would be borne by state and local taxpayers.

Bullock said it will be “a huge milestone” if the IOC agrees to put Utah’s bid to a vote of its general membership on July 24. But organizers aren’t waking up to a win just yet.

“The victory lap will be July 24 at about 5 a.m,” Bullock said. “So we’re continuing to work. Until then, we feel very good that everything’s lining up. It’s a lot of work. But the victory lap is just around the corner.”

Editor’s note, June 12, 1:00 p.m.: This article was updated with new from the International Olympic Committee.