Salt Lake, USOC explore when to bid to host Winter Games


U.S. champion Michelle Kwan practices for the women's short program for the Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Games. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, file)

The United States is prepping a bid for the Winter Olympics.

But even after Friday’s meeting of U.S. Olympic Committee Officials, some questions remain whether officials here will vie for a chance to host the 2026 Games or wait to bid for 2030.

“I think I put a stake in the ground and said we are interested in hosting the Winter Games,” USOC chairman Larry Probst told reporters. “Ideally, that is probably 2030, so there’s no confusion with the preparations for” the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Salt Lake is among the U.S. cities that has expressed interest in hosting the games. Denver and Reno-Tahoe are the others.

The primary question for U.S. Olympic officials is: when?

USOC representatives said Friday they will feel out the International Olympic Committee in the coming months and still could put together a formal bid for 2026, especially if the IOC is considering the possibility of a duel award for 2026 and 2030, as it did with Paris and Los Angeles in 2024 and 2028, respectively.

“We’d certainly want to be in that conversation,” Probst said. “We want to be at the table for that discussions.”

In Salt Lake City, where all of the venues used during the 2002 Winter Games still are used and maintained, officials long have expressed their interest in bringing the Games back to Utah.

“We stand ready, willing and able when the time is right for the U.S. to host a Winter Olympics,” Colin Hilton, president of Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, said earlier this year. “That hasn’t changed. From my perspective, there’s things I can control and things I can’t control. The mantra my board and I have been doing is to try and be the world’s premier Winter Olympic and athlete training and event destination. One day, if we do all that well, logic would say that a Games should come back here.”

USOC officials said this week they still have yet to formalize a process for interested host cities.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Probst said. “But longer term, yes, we want to bid for the Winter Games.”

The 2026 games are set to be awarded in 2019. The USOC has until the end of March 2018 to select a city for a formal bid for those Games.

Officials said they still are trying to gather information from the IOC regarding its interest in a dual-bid for 2026 and 2030.

“The first step is to better understand from the IOC what their process is going to be,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said.

Next year’s Games will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Winter Olympics will be held in China in 2022. USOC officials reiterated Friday that the IOC has expressed interest in returning the Games to “more traditional locations” in 2026 and 2030.

“To me that suggests a location in Europe and/or North America,” Probst said. “We just need to have further discussions at that level and understand what the IOC leadership has in mind for the process going forward.”

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