The International Olympic Committee announced Thursday a final decision on the host of the 2030 Winter Games now isn’t expected until the fall of 2023, adding months to the wait by the candidate cities — Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada.
But IOC spokesman Mark Adams said he doesn’t see the shift as “any kind of major disruption at all. It’s a very short postponement of the decision” originally scheduled for May. “Obviously, the finer details still need to be worked out.”
The delay comes after the IOC Executive Board decided to postpone a meeting scheduled to be held in Mumbai, India, next May until September or October due to the “uncertain situation” of India’s national Olympic committee, which faces suspension over internal disputes, governance shortcomings and court cases.
It is not clear what that means for anticipated recommendations from the IOC Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games in November — or for the executive board’s plans to advance its 2030 pick in December, to start contract negotiations as part of what’s known as “targeted dialog” under the new, less formal bid process.
“I can’t give you a definitive answer,” Adams told reporters during a virtual news conference held after the executive board meeting. “What I can tell you is obviously the process is quite flexible. The idea of targeted dialog is one that allows us to start targeted dialog when the time is right.”
Adams made it clear the full IOC membership is still scheduled to vote on the host of the 2030 Winter Games at their annual session next year, whether that ends up being held in Mumbai or someplace else. A decision on whether the Indian national Olympic committee will be suspended won’t come until December.
“What I would say at the moment is that the main thing you need to know is the decision will still be made at the session,” the IOC spokesman said, adding that the IOC “will be in touch with those interested parties and we’ll be running them through the process as it now stands.”
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games bidding for the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games, said the bid team had already been notified about the session postponement and supports the IOC’s efforts to work through whatever challenges it faces.
“It’s a long process to be able to host a Games. Patience is really critical. A partnership with the IOC is highly important and we have an excellent relationship with them, which gives us a lot of trust and confidence in the process,” Bullock said, adding that “situations like this naturally fit into that flexible system” for bidding.
Salt Lake City is “100% ready. The IOC knows that at any time they need us, we’ll move ahead,” he said.
“And while we’re disappointed that we won’t have news earlier relative to a bid, the dates of hosting are fixed, whether it’s 2030 or 2034,” Bullock said. “So even though it’s a delay in the bidding process, it’s just a temporary delay relative to hosting down the road.”
Little was said at the news conference about a new Olympic bribery scandal involving allegations an executive of Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Games, which weren’t held until last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, received bribes from companies that became Olympic sponsors.
Sapporo’s mayor recently canceled a trip this month to the IOC’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, blaming scheduling issues amid speculation opposition to the Japanese city’s Winter Games hopes was increasing due to the scandal.
Asked if the cancellation of Sapporo’s meeting was because of the scandal, Adams said, “No. It was due to scheduling challenges” and that the IOC was looking at providing Sapporo with another opportunity to sit down with IOC President Thomas Bach but did not offer further details.
Leaders of Salt Lake City’s bid already met with Bach in June. At the meeting, the IOC president raised issues about some of the U.S. response to Beijing hosting the 2022 Winter Games despite China’s human rights record, suggesting that left a “bad feeling” among IOC members.
Salt Lake City and Sapporo had been seen as frontrunners for 2030. But Bach’s remarks, along with concerns about the U.S. hosting a Winter Games just 18 months after the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, have suggested that 2034 may be more likely for Salt Lake City.
Bach also has ruled out the possibility that the IOC could award both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games at the same time, saying a decision for 2034 will have to wait until after his successor is in place some three years from now.