IOC leaders set to hear ‘very precise report’ on 2030 Winter Games bidders. Here’s why their pick might still be months away
Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver all expected to be discussed
Salt Lake City could advance to the next stage of the bid process for the 2030 Winter Games as soon as Tuesday, but leaders of the International Olympic Committee meeting this week in Switzerland may end up delaying a decision for months.
The IOC Executive Board is set to receive “a very precise report indeed,” from the IOC Future Host Commission that’s charged with making recommendations for which bidders should begin contract negotiations for 2030, Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi told reporters during a virtual news conference on Monday.
Last month, Gov. Spencer Cox, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and other backers of Utah’s bid made a virtual pitch to the commission that left the governor “really confident” the state will host another Olympics, either in 2030 or 2034.
Two other potential 2030 hosts, Sapporo, Japan, and Vancouver, Canada, according to GamesBids.com, also made presentations to the commission. Dubi declined to confirm Vancouver, thought to be out of the running, participated but said the latest on the Canadian bid would be part of the commission’s report to IOC leaders.
Sapporo is struggling to maintain support for its bid because of a widening Olympic bribery scandal involving deals made with organizers of the 2020 Summer Games held last year in Tokyo, including new allegations of bid rigging in connection with contracts for pre-Games test events.
“We as the IOC have taken note of the allegations,” Dubi said. “We have all, starting with the IOC, every interest that there is full clarification around these allegations. If one or several individuals were involved in these activities, it has to be clarified, of course.”
He noted Sapporo’s mayor, as well as the Japanese Olympic Committee, have committed to coming up with tighter rules for hosting major events in Japan, and although that may take several months, it is “really welcomed and something that can address concern from all parties involved in the future.”
Vancouver’s bid ran into trouble when British Columbia’s government announced it would not agree to pledge more than $2 billion toward a 2030 Winter Games, citing the “extraordinary expense” of hosting another Olympics in the province.
Canadian Olympic officials have pressed for the provincial government to sit down with leaders of the bid to become the first Indigenous-led Games. Vancouver bid leaders told the commission they remain committed to hosting and can deliver a bid, GamesBid.com reported.
On Tuesday, the second of the three-day IOC Executive Board meeting, Dubi said the commission’s chairman, Romanian IOC member Octavian Morariu, “will present the lay of the land when it comes to the presentations that were made.”
But what comes next is up to the IOC Executive Board.
IOC President Thomas Bach had announced that a decision would be made during the Executive Board’s December meeting about which city or cities should move to what’s known as targeted dialogue in the new, less formal bid process that does not include a timeline.
After next year’s annual session where the final vote is expected on the 2030 pick — it was postponed from May until sometime in the fall — there has been talk that the IOC leaders would wait a few months to see what happens in Sapporo and, possibly, Vancouver.
Dubi said the “new time frame” for a final vote by the full IOC memberships “gives several options to be discussed at the level of the Executive Board,” once they’ve heard the commission’s report. He did not detail the options, but said “the possible timelines will be presented tomorrow.”
Bach is scheduled to hold a news conference on Wednesday, when any decision is expected to be announced.
All three bid cities have previously hosted a Winter Games: Salt Lake City in 2002, Sapporo in 1972 and Vancouver in 2010. Without mentioning any city by name, Dubi said the IOC has “indeed candidates that offer a number of solid guarantees.”
Probably the best guarantee, he said, “is the fact that they have hosted the Games in the past so it gives indeed a lot of possibilities when it comes to timeline.”
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that’s behind the bid, suggested in a statement he isn’t expecting a decision from the IOC until sometime in the first three months of 2023.
“The IOC continues to be an excellent partner through this dialogue process. While the milestones have always been clear, the timing is flexible,” Bullock said. “The Future Host Commission will present its detailed findings tomorrow and then the IOC Executive Board will make its decision on timing which cities or city to invite.”
He said that based on the IOC session being moved from spring to fall next year, “we believe it is very possible that invitations to Targeted Dialogue will be postponed until Q1 (the first quarter) of 2023. We continue to do our work to be fully prepared.”
Salt Lake City is bidding for both 2030 and 2034. Recently, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee made it clear it would be better for Salt Lake City to wait until 2034 to host because another American city, Los Angeles, is holding the 2028 Summer Games.
While there are other issues with back-to-back Olympics in the same country, the USOPC’s chief worry is money. Two Olympics in a row could cut into the domestic sponsorship revenues available, a key source of funding in the United States where Games are supposed to be paid for without tapping taxpayers.