Utah’s bid to bring another Winter Games to the state won praise from the head of the International Olympic Committee on Thursday for having the support of Salt Lake City and state leaders.
But IOC President Thomas Bach also made it clear Olympic officials are waiting to hear whether Salt Lake City is seeking the 2030 or the 2034 Winter Games, a decision yet to be made by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Bach briefly joined the virtual meeting between bidders and the IOC on Monday that he said included Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, a representative of Gov. Spencer Cox and USOPC Chairwoman Susanne Lyons.
“What I could feel there is this great unity,” Bach told reporters during a virtual news conference by the Switzerland-based IOC following three days of executive committee sessions. “The great unity and enthusiasm that was there — this was a very good feeling.”
The IOC president, who is from Germany, said he was later told the rest of the call that reportedly lasted more than two hours “went very well. They were very well prepared. They were very well informed.”
He said the talks “will continue to see when Salt Lake City would like to enter into a closer dialog with the IOC. I think there, they are also looking for our advice there. ... It was a very friendly and fruitful conversation.”
The next opportunity the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games will have to pitch the IOC is during the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing set to start in February, when a three-member delegation plans to head to China despite a U.S. diplomatic boycott.
Bach has been critical in the past of Olympic boycotts, but said it’s a “political decision” by President Joe Biden and leaders of at least four other nations including the United Kingdom not to send government officials to Beijing to protest China’s human rights record.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who led the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, first called for the boycott in March and is urging other “free nations” to make their concerns known about China’s abuses of ethnic and religious minorities as well as political dissenters.
Other cities and countries bidding for the Winter Games in 2030 or beyond are Vancouver, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; Barcelona, Spain and the Pyrenees mountain region; and Ukraine. An IOC official said discussions will be held with delegations from those bids in Beijing.
There is no timeline for the IOC to choose the next Winter Games host under a new, less formal bidding process that relies on a recommendation by a commission created to review bids, although typically that’s been done seven years in advance.
Bach deflected a question about the possibility of both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games being awarded at the same time, as was done recently with the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games, saying that would be up to the IOC’s new commission.