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USOC leaning towards 2030 for winter Olympics bid

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has confirmed that it is interested in bidding for the winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, but has admitted that it would prefer to stage the 2030 event so as not to interfere with Los Angeles’ hosting of the 2028 summer Games.

The potential for a winter Olympics bid was on the agenda at a meeting of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly. A bid is being considered for the 2026 or 2030 edition of the Games, with Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno, Nevada being lined up as potential hosts.

Los Angeles 2028 officials have previously expressed their concern over the impact of back-to-back Games on the selling of corporate partnerships for the events. No country has hosted consecutive Olympics since before World War II.

“During my comments at the Assembly I put a stake in the ground and said we are interested in hosting the Winter Games,” USOC chairman Larry Probst (pictured) said, according to the Reuters news agency. “Ideally that’s probably 2030 so there is no confusion with the preparations for 2028.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has refused to rule out the prospect that the historic dual awarding of hosting rights for the 2024 and 2028 summer Olympics could be repeated for future editions of the winter Games.

The IOC last month confirmed that Paris and Los Angeles will be the hosts of the 2024 and 2028 summer Olympics, respectively. The historic move led to speculation at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru, that a similar strategy could be employed for the 2026 and 2030 winter Olympics.

Commenting on such speculation, Probst said: “If the IOC considers the possibility of a dual award of 2026 and 2030, we certainly want to be in that conversation. We want to be at the table for that discussion.”

USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said that the organisation would need to identify a city by March if it was to proceed with a bid for the 2026 Games. The US last staged the Games in 2002, when the event was held in Salt Lake City, and any prospect of a USOC bid was boosted by yesterday’s (Sunday’s) news that Innsbruck is set to drop out of contention.

Innsbruck’s bid for the 2026 Games is set to be shelved after becoming the latest proposal for the IOC’s showpiece event to fail to find favour with local residents. The Austrian city had set forth a bid plan encompassing the wider Tyrol region, along with events in Germany. However, in a referendum staged yesterday, 53.35 per cent of voters in Tyrol rejected the proposal, with this figure rising to 67.41 per cent in Innsbruck, the capital of the province.

A final result following postal voting is expected on Monday evening or Tuesday morning, but it is not expected to significantly change the outcome. The province has therefore said it plans to drop the Games bid.

The bidding process for the 2026 Games formally launched last month, with the opening of the invitation phase on September 29. Christophe Dubi, executive director for the Olympic Games, last month said that talks were held at the IOC Session with Innsbruck, Sion (Switzerland), Calgary (Canada) and Stockholm (Sweden). The likes of Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Sapporo (Japan) have also expressed an interest in bidding.