Supporters of Utah’s Olympic bid have to wait a little longer for IOC audience

Supporters of Utah’s bid to bring the Winter Games back to the state in 2030 or 2034 will not travel to Switzerland to sit for the first time with officials from the International Olympic Committee as soon as they had hoped so after their meeting was postponed. to December.

“It’s just part of an ongoing dialogue that’s very flexible,” said Fraser Bullock, chair and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Games Committee, of the schedule change to Dec. 6 from to what had been previously announced at the end of November, apparently to accommodate several participants.

Bullock, director of operations for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, said the bid committee plans to provide more details on Monday about the upcoming IOC headquarters visit following a more virtual introductory meeting. early this month.

There are four other Winter Games candidates in talks with the IOC – Vancouver, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; Barcelona, ​​Spain and the Pyrenees mountains; and Ukraine, where the president of that country, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, hopes to transform the Svydovets region into “the Alps of Eastern Europe”.

Utah’s planned meeting at the IOC’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the newly formed Olympic Winter Games Host Commission, is expected to define the organization’s new, less formal process for choosing the venue for the Games.

This process – which does not include a timeline for appointing a host, traditionally carried out seven years before the Games – began on November 12, when Governor Spencer Cox joined Bullock and USOPC President Susanne Lyons to meet with members. of the commission on Zoom.

“Our goal was Utah’s exceptional preparation,” the governor said in a statement to Deseret News. “My message was that we are eternally grateful for what the Olympic movement has given Utah and now it’s Utah’s turn to give back.”

Bullock, who, along with Steve Starks, the governor’s representative on the bid committee and his Olympic advisor, met with Cox days before the call to review his talking points, praised the governor’s performance during the virtual meeting to ‘a half hour.

“The governor was his enthusiastic, enthusiastic and warm habit during this call. And that was a very positive call, ”said Bullock, who gave the Utah bid team an opening to talk about“ high-level elements of what the Games would look like in Utah ”with the IOC.

The discussion also focused on “our strong legacy from 2002, the strong support of our community and our progress to date,” Bullock said. The bid committee is working behind the scenes on the budgets for the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games and negotiating contracts to secure competition venues and hotel rooms.

The IOC said in a statement that the future Host Commission “was delighted to meet virtually in November with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee, as well as other interested national Olympic committees and regions. to host the Olympic Games. Winter game. “

But the IOC declined to confirm which cities have had meetings with the commission, citing “the different stages of interest between the various parties engaged in these discussions” as well as the “confidentiality requested by each party on the progress of their project. “.

The new process, the IOC press office told Deseret News, “has inspired confidence in cities and regions interested in opening non-binding conversations about hosting the Games” and is expected to lower the price of auctions which have climbed to $ 100 million. about 80%.

Utah’s efforts to win the 2002 Games sparked a global scandal over the money and gifts given to IOC members who helped drive reforms to the selection process. Bullock said last summer he hoped to “set a record for the lowest Olympic bid budget on record”, spending no more than $ 3.8 million raised from private sources.

Although it has been three years since the USOPC chose Salt Lake City over Denver as America’s choice to host the upcoming Winter Games, the organization still has not decided whether the bid is for 2030 or 2034. Supporters of Utah’s candidacy, who say the “sooner the better,” had hoped the issue would be resolved by the end of the year.

The Colorado Springs-based USPOC is in no rush, but is expected to hold a board meeting in Salt Lake City next month, during the scheduled US Olympic short track speed skating trials. December 17-19 at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.

What complicates the choice of 2030 over 2034 is that another US city, Los Angeles, hosts the 2028 Summer Games. Back-to-back Olympics in the same country are seen as a tough sell that could harm national sponsorships.

Ed Hula, Founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Around the Rings, a longtime global Olympic news source who started in Atlanta and is now based in Buenos Aires, said the US and International Olympic Committees could find a way to market a pair of Games in the United States as an “Olympic juggernaut” for sponsors.

“Maybe they come together to try to find a way to make this a win-win where we have a super terrific package for advertisers,” he said, a sort of deal that maximizes the benefits. Olympic Games in the United States. for the 2028 Summer Games and the 2030 Winter Games.

The IOC, Hula said, might not take too long to award not only 2030, but also 2034, now that several seemingly viable candidates have come forward. He said the race now appears to be between Salt Lake City and Vancouver for 2030, with Sapporo struggling to cut its proposed budget for the Games by 20%, a possibility for 2034.

Like Salt Lake City, Vancouver and Sapporo have previously hosted the Winter Games – Vancouver in 2010 and Sapporo in 1972. Barcelona are also a former Olympic host of the 1992 Summer Games. Ukraine briefly presented its candidacy for them. Beijing 2022 Winter Games.

Salt Lake City may have an advantage, Hula said, because it’s “kind of out of the box. This is going to be really attractive to them in terms of being able to host a Games that are not a worry ”after the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games were delayed for a year by COVID-19 and the controversies surrounding Beijing on the balance sheet China’s human rights policy. .

“It won’t take long for them to figure out which one is the best to play ball with,” he said, predicting that 2030 and 2034 could be awarded at the same time, as was done four years ago when The 2024 Summer Games went to Paris and Los Angeles got the 2028 Summer Games.

Vancouver has yet to be officially selected to bid on behalf of Canada, said Emilio Rivero, director of stakeholder relations for Vancouver 2030, described as a “grassroots non-profit company dedicated to exploring sustainability. “the return of the Winter Games. in British Columbia.

Any advantage of the Canadian city for 2030 “could be lost,” said Rivero, adding that “we’re a little concerned about the wait, the waiting game that’s going on right now.” Support in British Columbia for an offer rose from 60% in January to 43% in October, according to a poll cited in a Business in Vancouver article.

Rivero said Salt Lake City is more than Vancouver’s biggest contender for other Winter Games.

“I think having the Games on our side of the world is good for everyone,” he said. “We are sister cities. We are so close to each other. … Whether in 2030 or 2034, we think we insist that you too, to get a good idea of ​​the IOC, to get one or the other.

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