‘Like 50 Super Bowls:’ Romney says Utah should get ready now to host 2034 Olympic Games

More than a dozen International Olympic Committee members will be in Utah next week in preparation for the anticipated 2034 announcement.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney, left, and Fraser Bullock during a visit to the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Friday, May 27, 2022. Romney and Bullock spoke about Utah's 2034 bid at an event on Friday, April 5, 2023.

A team consisting of 14 members of the International Olympic Committee will be in Utah next week touring the venues for the Games for three days in what is one of the last milestones before an anticipated announcement in July that Salt Lake will host the 2034 Winter Olympics.

“They’re going to see the beauty of Utah and just make sure that everybody feels okay,” Fraser Bullock, President and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, said Friday.

Bullock said the IOC team will take the information from their visit and write a report to the IOC Executive Board for its June meeting that will be put before the membership “to then proceed to what we anticipate being an award [of the Games] on July 24, Pioneer Day.”

“We asked for that [day], and they agreed because we think that there’s a big party going on and let’s just blow it up even bigger,” said Bullock. If the vote is positive, he said, the bid committee will sign the host contract on the spot “and the games are ours.”

Bullock and past Olympic leaders spoke as part of a panel on the impact of the 2002 Olympics and preparations to host again in 2034.

The visit and the vote are largely a formality. Last October, the IOC revealed that Salt Lake was the only city vying to host the 2034 Olympics, and in November, it was formally named the preferred host city for the Games.

Despite having a decade before the opening ceremonies, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney — who was head of Salt Lake’s 2002 Olympic Games — said preparations for such a massive event need to already be underway.

“I have people that come up to me and say that that Olympics must have been like a Super Bowl. And I laugh and I say it’s like 50 Super Bowls,” he said. “A Super Bowl is easy. Not even a comparison. What is done in an Olympics is a massive undertaking.”

Romney said that organizers need to start working on locking down federal funding for roads and transit, as well as the extensive security network. It will likely take several billion dollars from Congress and Romney said it is better to get that funding a couple hundred million at a time rather than all at once.

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt echoed Romney’s urging to begin work now and added that there also needs to be a goal for what state leaders hope to gain from hosting the Games.

“Plan the Olympics, not as a 17-day activity. … Think of the Olympics as the launch of a 10-year effort and be very clear on what it is you want the Olympics to produce,” said Leavitt, touting the 200 technology leaders he invited to the Games as fueling the emergence of the state’s tech industry.

“Many of them came here and realized, ‘This is a different place than we thought it was,’” he said. “And you can look at specific enterprises who built out employment that today have thousands of employees in the state, because we could see what we needed in the future.