While Utah’s Olympic bidders are focused on getting the 2030 Winter Games, four years later could be more likely.

“There are other really good candidates,” Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games said during a public board meeting Thursday. “As we look at the dynamics of the other cities versus us, we recognize that back-to-back Games are challenging.”

Besides Salt Lake City, host of the 2002 Winter Games, three other cities that also previously held an Olympics are competing for 2030 — Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; and Barcelona, Spain, and the Pyrenees mountain region. Barcelona’s bid, however, appears to have stalled over venue locations.

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With Los Angeles the site of the 2028 Summer Games, Bullock, chief operating officer of the 2002 Games, told the community, business and sport leaders on the committee’s larger, strategic board that it’s going to be difficult for the International Olympic Committee to choose another American city for the Winter Games that follow.

“Geopolitically, it’s hard for the IOC to award back-to-back Games in the U.S., for ’28 and for ’30. We know that that’s hard. But we also recognize there are opportunities through back-to-back Games, through collaborations,” he said. “We’re continuing to work through those issues and present our case.”

But bidders are being “prudent,” Bullock said, making sure all of the contracts being put in place in anticipation of hosting would extend to the 2034 Winter Games as well as 2030. That includes commitments for more than 17,000 hotel rooms as well as ski resorts and other venues during a Games.

There have been concerns raised before about the impact of back-to-back American Games on the value of domestic sponsorships for both Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, an issue still being hammered out behind the scenes by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which shares in those revenues.

Utah has about six months left to persuade the IOC that the United States should host two Olympics in a row. The IOC Executive Committee expects to narrow the field of 2030 candidates at its meeting in early December under a timeline made public last month that calls for ratification by the IOC’s full membership in May 2023.

Bullock said Thursday more than one city could be chosen to enter into host contract negotiations with the IOC in December as part of the new, less formal bid process that allows for multiple Games to be awarded at the same time.

There has been speculation that could happen with the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games, with Salt Lake City and Sapporo seen by some observers as the frontrunners. The bid cities are currently being evaluated by an IOC commission that will make recommendations to the organization’s leadership.

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Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks during a strategic board meeting of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 2, 2022. | Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

“We’ll have a pretty good idea where things stand, really, six months from now. So this is the intense part of the bid process. We’ve been extremely well-prepared. We’ve done so much work in advance that we feel very comfortable with where we are today,” Bullock told the group meeting at Vivint Arena and online.

He advised them that Utah has a “very, very strong bid proposal. We think we have the best technical bid in the world, of any potential Winter Games. You all know the reasons why. Everything’s in place. The people are in place. We have incredibly great support. So all of that bodes very well for us.”

Following a closed meeting of the bid’s smaller governing board, Bullock also stressed the strength of Utah’s bid when asked during a virtual news conference about his comments about back-to-back Olympics in the United States.

“We just recognize for any country to be awarded two Games back-to-back is obviously challenging, because Games are seen as something that they want to rotate around,” he said, adding there is also “a little bit of a strength there, because they need to return back to North America.”

The last North American city to host an Olympics was Vancouver, in 2010, and the last U.S. Olympics was in Salt Lake City, in 2002.

“So, yes, there might be a challenge with back-to-back, Summer-Winter, but also an opportunity to have them come back to North America,” Bullock said. “We’re not running into anything difficult, per se. We’re just saying logically, it makes sense they have to work through that issue.”

Salt Lake City is “an excellent candidate for North America. We stand a good chance for 2030, and we’re working hard at it,” he said, later adding that “the IOC has been incredibly encouraging us to bring forward our bid and guiding us along the way for 2030.”

He also said there’s been no talk of a dual award, of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games.

“We have heard nothing about that. That’s totally in the purview of the IOC and we’ll support whatever action they take,” Bullock said, noting there’s been a precedent for that, when Los Angeles was given the 2028 Summer Games at the same time Paris was chosen to host the 2024 Summer Games.

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Catherine Raney Norman, four-time Olympian and chairwoman of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, is pictured during an interview after a strategic board meeting at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 2, 2022. | Mengshin Lin, Deseret News
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The vision for another Winter Games in Utah was discussed during the hour-long closed meeting, he said, something that’s still being refined but will be “centered around our ability to expand winter sport not only here in Utah, but around the world.”

The bid committee’s proposed $2.2 billion budget for a 2030 Winter Games includes a $300 million legacy sports endowment that would be used to fund the state’s Olympic facilities, including the Utah Olympic Park’s ski jumps and sliding track, as well as the Utah Sports Commission.

Bullock and the bid committee’s chairwoman, four-time Olympian Catherine Raney Norman, are headed to the IOC’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, later this month to sit down with IOC President Thomas Bach and other officials after previously scheduled in-person meetings were canceled due to COVID-19.

A debriefing with organizers of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing planned to be held in Milan, Italy, later in June will now be held virtually, Bullock said. He, Raney Norman, and a bid consultant saw their trip to China to observe last winter’s Olympics canceled, also because of COVID-19.

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