The finish line is still very unclear, but the race for the Winter Games in 2030 is picking up speed. The Americans in Salt Lake City are picking up the pace. They are receiving an IOC delegation in Utah this week, for the first time since their designation by the US Olympic movement in December 2018.
The visit was announced. It began on Wednesday 27 April. It continues today and will end tomorrow at midday. Three days of inspection of the sites proposed by the Salt Lake City bid committee for the competitions, the ceremonies and the athletes’ village.
The IOC delegation is small, but led by one of the key players in the selection process, Romanian Octavian Morariu, chairman of the Winter Games Host City Commission. Anything but anecdotal.
On the American side, the host team is a very diplomatic mix of project proponents, including bid committee CEO Fraser Bullock and President Catherine Raney Norman, and representatives of the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
Fraser Bullock, the former chief operating officer of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, explained on the first day of the visit: “The IOC is in town to conduct a technical review of all of our venues to see what’s in place and what’s not. Fortunately, in Utah we have everything in place, our venues are gorgeous.” Cool.
The delegation of envoys from Lausanne began their inspection tour at a brisk pace on Wednesday 27 April, with successive stops at Vivint Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz in the NBA, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and then at the Athletes’ Village on the University of Utah campus. She is scheduled to continue her journey outside of Utah’s capital city at the Snowbasin Resort, Park City, Provo and West Valley City.
Commented former speed skater Derek Parra, a 2002 Olympic gold medallist who is now in charge of training and operations at the Salt Lake City Olympic Oval: “We are ready to host the games, it’s not if, it’s when, and hopefully it’s 2030. I guess my goal is that they (IOC) see that we’re committed to sport, we have been the state of sport, we’ve been in the Paralympic and Olympic movement for over 20 years and we are still doing it right now today.”
At this stage of the race, the Americans are still playing two games. They are bidding for the Winter Games in 2030, but they are not shying away from shifting their plans and finally focusing on the next edition. The 2030 option now seems to be the priority, but it comes up against a major obstacle: commercial competition with the Summer Games in Los Angeles in 2028.
The project leaders make no secret of the fact that both options are still under consideration. Discussions have begun with the USOPC and LA28 to try to find a common ground where two consecutive editions of the Games, summer in 2028 and winter in 2030, would be compatible in terms of marketing and partnership. Not an easy task.
The IOC delegation’s visit to Utah this week is not expected to be decisive. It is the first, perhaps not the last. But according to several sources close to the matter, the discussions with the envoys from Lausanne could have an impact on Salt Lake City’s final decision on whether to host the 2030 Winter Games or the 2034 Games.
The IOC has not officially unveiled the timetable for the process of selecting the host city for the 2030 Games. However, there is talk in the US camp that the bid file could be submitted as early as next summer, with a decision by the IOC Executive Board in May 2023.