And now, more anticipation.
It won’t be too long, however. The United States Olympic Committee is expected to make its decision on a future Olympic bid city for an upcoming Winter Games at its December board of directors meetings. The USOC will choose between Salt Lake City and Denver, the last two Olympic hopefuls who have showed continual interest in hosting a future Winter Games.
The Utah Olympic and Paralympic Exploratory Committee reconvened Thursday afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City to break down the USOC’s full day on-site visit on November 14 and what lies ahead. OEC leaders laid out what scenarios could be in store for 2019 should the USOC decide to choose Salt Lake City and solidify an Olympic return to the Beehive State.
The first scenario, laid out by Fraser Bullock, co-chair of the OEC and the former 2002 Olympic chief operating officer, would be a traditional path to hosting what would likely be the 2030 Games. An eventual selection by the International Olympic Committee in 2023, providing a standard seven-year run-up period.
The second scenario?
It could serve as an intense six-month period should the IOC make it clear it wants to, once more, provide a dual-award bid situation as it did by recently awarding Paris the 2024 Summer Games and Los Angeles the 2028 Summer Games. The 2026 Winter Games are scheduled to have a home next summer when the IOC selects the future host. Bullock said it remains a possibility that the IOC could perform another dual-bid scenario, picking not only 2026’s city, but also 2030.
So what would that mean for Salt Lake, should it be the USOC’s pick come December?
An extreme amount of work.
“The key is our responsibility is to follow the lead of the U.S. Olympic Committee — that’s it,” Bullock said. “If they decided they wanted to be more prepared in terms of a full candidature file for June in case there’s a dual award, that means all hands on deck for six months flat out.”
Bullock said USOC chairman Larry Probst has voiced support of the organization once again being involved in a dual-award bid situation. The IOC has also made it clear that it wants each of the next two Winter Games to take place in Europe and North America. The 2026 finalists are currently Milan, Italy, and Stockholm, Sweden. Bullock said as of now, the only other city to express interest in hosting the 2030 Games is Sapporo, Japan, who recently dropped out of the 2026 process.
“It would be a very intense six months if we’re asked to bid by June,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “We’ve done a bunch of the preliminary work. Yes, it would be intense. Would we show up for it? Of course we would.”
“I don’t know anybody that can do that in six months anywhere in the world,” said Jeff Robbins, co-chair of the OEC and the CEO of the Utah Sports Commission. “Certainly if one of those pathways opened, we could get it done in six months.”
That preliminary work stems from Salt Lake having recently provided an extensive workbook to the USOC, which asked for a detailed breakdown of how a theoretical Olympic return to the state would go. Bullock explained that Salt Lake’s anticipated $1.4 billion budget is by far the lowest of any future Olympic hopeful bid city. The budget will be privately-funded, he reiterated, with “not one cent” coming from state or local government or taxpayer money. In the workbook, officials forecast that $10 million will be necessary for the IOC bid process should Salt Lake get that far. But Bullock said he doesn’t anticipate spending that much.
“It’s a huge advantage to be the lowest-cost budget in the world, because of the infrastructure we have in place,” Bullock said, “because of our geography gives us a huge advantage because we can be flexible, we don’t need state and local taxpayer money, which changes the whole attitude toward hosting.”
The only public expenditures necessary will be security from the federal government. Bullock believes that on local sponsorships alone, these Games could break even. The budget already includes a $110 million cushion via a $60 million contingency fund and a $50 million base endowment. That’s seven percent of the projected budget already in tow as a contingency plan.
The USOC board meetings are scheduled for December 13 and 14, Bullock said. In as soon as two weeks, Utah might find out which exact path it will be on. As for the shakiness that still surrounds the 2026 IOC bid, Bullock said the USOC’s visit two weeks ago was based around 2030. Bullock declined comment when asked if Salt Lake could be last-ditch selection should either Stockholm or Milan falter.
“We’re ready to go next year,” he said, laughing. “We’d love to go next year.”