USOC poised to step up winter Olympic bid ambitions

The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is reportedly set to decide on an American bid city for a future winter Olympic and Paralympic Games by the end of the year, with Salt Lake City officials pushing their claims as they prepare to stage a significant meeting today (Tuesday).

In February, Salt Lake City became the first US city to confirm its intention to bid to host the 2030 Games. The city’s Olympic exploratory committee released a 140-page report that concluded that the city could rely on many of the venues that hosted events during the 2002 Olympics, with the Games having an estimated budget of $1.35bn (€1.19bn).

Salt Lake City has since been joined by rival bids from Denver and the Reno-Tahoe area. The Deseret News has now said the USOC is due to pick a candidate for an as-yet unidentified future winter Games that could be as soon as 2030. “This is a natural continuation of the process, to choose a city out of three by the end of the year,” USOC spokesman, Mark Jones, told the Salt Lake City-based newspaper yesterday (Monday).

A US bid has previously been earmarked for the 2030 Games, but fresh uncertainty over a possible date comes with renewed concerns over the bidding process for the 2026 Games. Multiple reports in Canada yesterday (Monday) said that Calgary council’s Olympic committee will be asked today to exit negotiations for a cost-sharing agreement to finance the 2026 Games, cancel a plebiscite on the bid scheduled for November 13 and end any further work on the project.

The news comes amid continuing uncertainty over the status of the two other bids – Stockholm and the joint effort from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said the US bid process is expected to include site visits next month followed by USOC-led public opinion polls to gauge support for hosting an Olympics in each of the three bid cities.

Biskupski and Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser are heading the newly-formed Salt Lake Executive Committee for the Games that will stage its first official meeting with the exploratory committee today.

The Deseret News said that news of a USOC bid timeline came following a meeting held last month, with Biskupski telling the newspaper that Salt Lake only recently received notice that a decision will be made before the end of 2018. She added: “I think by far our city is light-years ahead of the other cities that are looking at this as far as venues and as far as our investment in those venues.”

Niederhauser said: “We thought we were going to be in limbo for a while. All of a sudden now we have an opportunity and we’re going for it. I don’t think the other cities can do what we can do in such a short time. That may be a little bit arrogant, but it’s just the facts.”