SALT LAKE CITY — With the International Olympic Committee's decision Monday to give the 2026 Winter Games to Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy, Salt Lake City's efforts to secure another Olympics officially shifts to 2030 or beyond.
The northern Italian cities were chosen over Stockholm, Sweden, in a 47-34 vote by members of the IOC meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. This will be Italy's third Winter Games, while Sweden has been passed over numberous times.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski tweeted her congratulations to the Italian bidders Monday, adding, "We are proud to be America's choice for a future bid & are ready, willing and able to have the torch pass from Italy to SLC."
It was another Italian city, Turin, that received the torch during the Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City as the host of the next Winter Games, in 2006.
IOC President Thomas Bach said there was what he termed a clear gap in public support for hosting the Olympics between Italy and Sweden, a real concern given the billion-dollar-plus price tag for the event.
The massive cost overruns for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, has made it difficult to attract qualified winter bid cities and the IOC was left with Beijing, a former Summer Games host, for 2022.
Last year, when Gov. Gary Herbert and other Utah leaders endorsed bidding againfor the Winter Games, there was talk the IOC might end up without any viable candidate for 2026 and turn to Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City soon got the go-ahead from the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee to participate in bid discussions, but by the time the city was officially chosen to bid in December over Denver and Reno-Tahoe, it was for a future Winter Games.
At that point, both the Italian and Swedish cities were still in the running for 2026, and theIOC had ruled out choosing the sites of two Winter Gamesat the same time, as happened with the Summer Games.
Fraser Bullock, the chief operating officer of the 2002 Winter Games and a leader of the new bid effort, said both Italy and Sweden "were able to garner significant political support, which some people thought wasn't possible."
He said that sometimes, "when an Olympic bid is right before you, it can galvanize people to become more excited about hosting. And that's what happened in both of these countries. It was exciting to see."
Support has not been an issue for Salt Lake City. A poll commissioned by the state's Olympic Exploratory Committee in 2017 found that nearly 89 percent of Utahns backed another bid.
When U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee leaders made a site visit to Utah last November, CEO Sarah Hirshland, highlighted the enthusiastic welcome and Olympic legacy on display during a brief speech to the Utah Legislature.
"To a person, everyone we have met today — public officials, civil servants, philanthropic leaders, citizens of the community, athletes who call this place home — everyone one of them has said to us, 'We're ready, we're willing, we're able. Let us prove it,'" she said, jokingly adding, "You're piling on."
Salt Lake City anticipates picking up its bid effort later this year with the IOC, Bullock said.
"I think the IOC is interested in letting the dust settle a little bit from 2026, because it's been a very intensive effort. They've been focused on that," Bullock said. "The USOPC may want to start entering a dialog for whatever future Games it is."
He said Salt Lake City will follow the lead of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
"They will make that choice," Bullock said. "Whether it's 2030 or 2034 or beyond."
For now, he said, "we are all excited to have a future discussion with the USOPC and the IOC regarding hosting a future Games. The USOPC's decision will, of course, be influenced by the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles."
The IOC's bidding process is being "reformed significantly," he said.
"The intent is to shift from a competitive bid like we saw today, where you have a winner and a loser," Bullock said. "It’s very painful for the losing country as the people of Salt Lake know when we lost for 1998" to Nagano, Japan.
The new bid process, set to be discussed Monday by the IOC, would create a commission that would seek "flexibility and collaboration" from cities interested in hosting an Olympics.
Bullock said that should save bid cities considerable money. Salt Lake had expected to spend $10 million bidding for a future Winter Games. The process could also be seen as benefiting cities already familiar to the IOC.
So far, only Sapporo, Japan, has expressed interest in bidding for 2030, although Sweden might make yet another try for a Winter Games, after being turned down eight times over 41 years.
With the 2018 Winter Games also in an Asian country, South Korea, Bullock said a Japanese bid could be challenging because it may be seen as time to come back to North America. Vancouver, Canada, was the last North American host, in 2010.