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Salt Lake City forms Olympic bid committee, Ukraine eyes joint effort with Belarus

Governor of Utah Gary Herbert speaks during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival (by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Salt Lake City and the state of Utah have formed a new committee to drive a proposed US bid for either the 2030 or 2034 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, while Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk, has talked up the potential for a joint bid with Belarus for a future Olympics.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall jointly launched the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games at an event yesterday (Wednesday), marking the latest step in the attempt to bring the Olympics back to the region after Salt Lake City’s staging of the 2002 winter Games.

In December 2018, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) put forward Salt Lake City to host a second winter Games in 2030, opting against a rival candidacy from Denver, Colorado. The 2030 Games is the next winter Olympics on the bidding block, but the signs from yesterday’s gathering point towards a Utah bid focusing its efforts on 2034.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last month confirmed it is in talks with Sapporo, Salt Lake City and Barcelona about hosting the 2030 winter Olympics, with the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) later approving Sapporo’s bid.

The presence of a strong Japanese bid, plus the fact the 2028 summer Games will be held in Los Angeles, has raised questions over the potential for back-to-back American Olympics, and the likely strain this will put on the domestic sponsorship market. Speaking to local newspaper the Deseret News, Herbert admitted that securing the 2030 Games “might be a little more problematic, I think, timewise.” However, he added: “The bottom line is, we’ll get what we can get.”

Herbert said the 2002 Games was a “real blessing” to Utah that helped “propel us onto the world stage”. Regarding the fresh bid strategy, he added: “I think we’ve got to tee it up, too. I think we have to go after 2030 and if we don’t get that, then we’ll be really positioned, I think, very well for 2034.”

Mendenhall, who assumed office last month, said that when it comes to 2030 or 2034, her “preference is that we are absolutely confident in the financial feasibility of the Games”. Stating that back-to-back US Olympics could also provide financial benefits, she added: “We know we can do a Games well. We know we want to host a Games. We absolutely need that Games to be financially successful. So that’s the only question mark.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Honcharuk has said the government is assessing an Olympic bid, which could be a joint effort with Belarus. Honcharuk’s comments come after President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, in July outlined plans for the country to bid for a future edition of the Olympic Games.

Zelensky made the suggestion during talks with Minister of Youth and Sports Ihor Zhdanov and National Olympic Committee of Ukraine president Serhiy Bubka. Ukrainian news agency RBC reported that Honcharuk has given instructions to assess Belarus’ staging of the 2019 European Games in Minsk, requesting that an action plan be drawn up in line with the IOC’s bidding requirements.

In September, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested his country could co-host the Olympic Games with Ukraine or Russia. Commenting on an Olympic bid, Honcharuk said: “The idea deserves an in-depth study.

“The government is looking into the situation from different points of view and will put forward a concept to our partners if the initiative can be implemented in the new future. This is an important and responsible image-building step. Such large-scale projects contribute to the renewal of the country’s infrastructure, strengthens its tourist appeal and national prestige worldwide.”