— Published 15 September 2023

Salt Lake City ready for any dialogue

Coincidence? Not at all. Less than ten days after the visit to the IOC of a delegation from the French bid for the 2030 Winter Games, the United States in turn moved a new pawn forward on the chessboard.

On Thursday September 14, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) formally approved Salt Lake City’s bid for the Winter Games. In itself, this is hardly a scoop. Utah’s capital is no newcomer to the campaign. In fact, since Japan’s Sapporo project was put on hold, it has been the longest-running bid. But the green light given this week by the USOPC allows Salt Lake City to eventually enter the so-called “targeted dialogue” phase with the IOC. This is the penultimate step on the road to the finish line, announced for early December, when the Olympic body’s Executive Board meets.

A delegation from Salt Lake City presented its application to the USOPC Board of Directors, meeting this week for its quarterly council. The Board gave its official seal of approval, and wished Salt Lake City all the best for the future.

During their presentation, the Utah envoys emphasized the high level of public support for the Olympic and Paralympic project, measured at 82% by an opinion poll conducted by the University of Utah. They also assured us that they had the unanimous support of all the political components of the state and the cities concerned. Finally, they specified that they had gathered all the necessary guarantees, at the various levels of the federal pyramid, to propose to the IOC a dossier without a single blank page.

Commented Fraser Bullock, chairman of the bid committee: “With this approval by the USOPC, we can continue to move forward and begin a dialogue with the IOC if we are lucky enough to be chosen.”

Will they be? The question begs another: will the IOC opt for a 2030/2034 double vote, as it did in 2017 to avoid having to choose between Paris and Los Angeles for the Summer Games?

The Americans have never made any secret of it: their bid for the 2030 Winter Games is a real one, but their clear preference would be for the following edition. “We are in a position to work with the IOC on 2030 if they need us, reiterated USOPC president Gene Sykes on Thursday, September 14, as quoted by GamesBids. But it is also actively working to develop an alternative bid for 2030 from another credible host.

The message is clear. It hasn’t changed, despite the arrival in the game over the past few months of new players, Swedish, Swiss and French: the United States will not back down for 2030, but it would welcome with relief a double vote that would send the first of the two editions to Europe, and the second to Utah.

Initially scheduled for this year, the award of the Winter Games in 2030 has been postponed by the IOC to the Paris session in July 2024. It could even be postponed by a few more months in the event that France is still in the running, as the body’s rules impose a neutral ground for such a decision.

In the meantime, the question of a possible 2030/2034 double vote could be discussed, or even validated, at next month’s session in Mumbai (October 15 to 17). It will be preceded, in the Indian city, by a meeting of the Executive Committee.