Salt Lake City is now the preferred host for the 2034 Winter Games.

While the final vote of the full International Olympic Committee membership won’t come until next July, leaders of the Switzerland-based organization agreed in late November to advance Salt Lake City to the next phase of the new, less formal selection process.

Both Salt Lake City and France’s French Alps bid to host the 2030 Winter Games were moved to what’s known as targeted dialogue, where details including financial guarantees from governments and the contract with the IOC to host are worked out.

The decision by the IOC Executive Board was celebrated in Salt Lake City, the site of the 2002 Winter Games. Utah leaders have been pursing another Olympics for more than a decade.

It wasn’t that long ago that this was supposed to be the year when the IOC would settle on a site for the 2030 Winter Games, based on bids from Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada.

But IOC leaders decided in December 2022 to upend an announced timeline that had already repeatedly shifted, putting off a pick and reviving the possibility that hosts for both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games may be named together.

That was intended to give the IOC more time to consider a plan to rotate future Winter Games among permanent sites chosen for their ability to weather the effects of climate change on outdoor competition venues.

The IOC delay also offered an opening for new cities to get in the race, and Sweden, Switzerland and France all came forward with bids for 2030. Sapporo and Vancouver, unable to secure the needed support, ended up out of the running.

Salt Lake City was the only bidder for both 2030 and 2034, with a preference for waiting longer after the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles to avoid a feared financial hit to domestic sponsorship sales.

With the IOC giving a “green light” in October to a naming the sites for 2030 and 2034 at the same time, Salt Lake City seemed to have locked up another Olympics as the only candidate for 2034.

South Korea’s Dohee You races in the men’s single luge World Cup event at Utah Olympic Park in Park City.
South Korea’s Dohee You races in the men’s single luge event for the World Cup in Park City on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

With IOC officials expressing confidence that both France and Salt Lake City will fulfill all of the requirements for hosting in the coming months, Utah appears poised to once again welcome the world at the end of what Gov. Spencer Cox is already calling Utah’s decade.

Here’s how the bid got to this point:

  • December 2018: What was then the U.S. Olympic Committee named Salt Lake City over Denver as America’s choice to host what was then described only as a future Winter Games. Another would-be U.S. host, the Reno-Tahoe area, dropped out a month earlier. Sapporo is already focusing on a 2030 bid.
  • June 2019: Milan and Cortina in Italy are awarded the 2026 Winter Games, over Stockholm, where public support fell short. There had been talk at one time that the IOC might need to turn to Utah to host due to a dearth of viable candidates. The 2022 Winter Games had gone to Beijing, host of a Summer Games in 2008, after several better-suited cities dropped out of the running.
  • June 2019: IOC revamps bid process just days after its decision on 2026, establishing Future Host Commissions to work with cities interested in hosting an Olympics in the hopes of ensuring a steady supply of willing and able hosts, especially for the Winter Games.
  • January 2020: Barcelona, Spain, host of the 1992 Summer Games, eyes a bid for the 2030 Winter Games with the region’s Pyrenees Mountains, raising questions about how a beachfront city can compete with winter sports cities like Salt Lake City and Sapporo. By mid-2022, the Spanish bid ended amid infighting among the cities involved.
  • February 2020: New Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games formed to back the bid, but U.S. Olympic officials aren’t in any hurry to decide whether it’s going to be for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games. Eventually, Salt Lake City bids for both Games.
  • March 2020: Utah Legislature passes a resolution pledging the state will take responsibility for staging a future Olympics. The specifics would still need to be approved before the state signs a host city contract with the IOC.
  • October 2020: Utah bidders formalize their interest in bringing another Winter Games to the state in a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach that calls for “deep collaboration” when it comes to mitigating the financial risks of hosting. The price tag for hosting had just gone up, in part to boost contingency funds after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a yearlong postponement of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
  • November 2020: Vancouver’s bid for the 2030 Winter Games takes shape as the Canadian city’s mayor insists the effort be led by the three First Nations whose traditional territory includes the area. Two years later, the British Columbia government refused to pledge more than $1 billion toward hosting what would be the world’s first Indigenous Olympics, a decision that would likely have to be reversed for the bid to continue.
The stairs leading to the takeoff spots on the ski jump at the Utah Olympic Park near Park City are pictured on Nov. 30, 2020. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
  • December 2020: Utah leaders, including then Gov.-elect Spencer Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, enthusiastically support another Olympics in the state as a way to showcase the strides made by the state since hosting in 2002. Cox said being an Olympic host gave Utahns new confidence “about our place in the world.”
  • February 2021: Brisbane, Australia, is unexpectedly named the “preferred” host of the 2032 Summer Games by IOC leaders years earlier than anticipated by other potential bidders, including Qatar. The decision demonstrated how much latitude there is under the new bid process.
  • March 2021: Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the leader of the 2002 Winter Games in Utah, calls for an economic and diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing to protest China’s human rights record, including what he described as genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
  • June 2021: The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games gets a new chairwoman, with Catherine Raney Norman, a speedskater who competed in four Winter Games including in Salt Lake City in 2002, replacing retired Rocky Mountain Power CEO Cindy Crane. Cox says the change is “really is about celebrating the athletes.”
  • July 2021: Utah is said to not only be getting ready to host in either 2030 or 2034, but also to be “positioned as a place that can regularly host the Games,” a year and a half before the IOC proposes looking at rotating the Winter Olympics among a group of permanent hosts.
  • September 2021: Utahns recall the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States just months before the 2002 Winter Games became the first major international post 9/11 event.
  • December 2021: The first chance for Utah bidders to sit down with IOC officials at the IOC’s headquarters in Switzerland turns into an abbreviated virtual meeting thanks to the latest COVID-19 outbreak. Another overseas trip, to observe the behind-the-scenes operations of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, is later scrapped due to the virus.
  • December 2021: After the IOC president hints that it’s time for the U.S. to specify which Winter Games Salt Lake City is bidding for, the USOPC unanimously approves a resolution that for the first time commits to hosting “as early as 2030.”
Gov. Spencer Cox sits with Vonetta Flowers, 2002 Olympic bobsled gold medalist, and Derek Parra, 2002 Olympic speedskating gold medalist, at a lighting ceremony for the Olympic Cauldron, marking the 20-year anniversary of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics opening ceremony at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
  • February 2022: The 20th anniversary of the 2002 Winter Games is celebrated in Utah.
  • March 2022: The IOC’s move to ban Russian and Belarusian teams from competing internationally as punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with assistance from neighboring Belarus affects a biathlon world championship held in Soldier Hollow. Later, Ukraine’s national curling team spends time training in the state.
  • April 2022: Utah gets an “under the radar” visit from a secretive technical team sent by the IOC’s Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games to inspect proposed venues, including one not used in 2002, the yet to open Mayflower Mountain Resort.
  • May 2022: A proposed $2.2 billion budget to host 2030 Winter Games requiring “zero taxpayer money from Utah” is detailed. Like the Super Bowl and other major national events, the federal government would help with security costs. Sapporo, meanwhile, is struggling with the “huge costs” associated with hosting.
  • May 2022: For the first time, the IOC lays out a timeline for choosing a 2030 host, saying a single city could be selected by the organization’s leaders to advance to what’s called the “targeted dialogue” phase of bidding in December. The full membership is set to vote on the pick at their annual meeting scheduled for May 2023 in India.
  • May 2022: The University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Institute releases a new analysis that projects a $3.9 billion total economic impact from the state hosting the 2030 Winter Games. That’s less than the boost from the state’s first Olympics two decades ago, calculated in a 2018 study, because venues and other needed infrastructure have been built.
  • June 2022: The next Olympics in the United States, the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, are labeled geopolitically challenging for Utah’s bid because “it’s hard for the IOC to award back-to-back Games in the U.S., for ’28 and for ’30.”
  • June 2022: Utahns start talking about their expectations for another Olympics in the state, including concerns the added attention could spur hard-to-handle growth, making it even more difficult to deal with issues like housing affordability and homelessness.
  • June 2022: Sapporo leaders decide not to hold a referendum on hosting in 2030 and Barcelona’s bid falls apart, “the the victim of political infighting among potential joint partners and opponents of the project.”
  • June 2022: Utah bidders are finally able to make their pitch to IOC officials, including Bach, in person at the IOC’s Swiss headquarters. During their meetings, Utah’s bid team is told that the U.S. should have shown more support for Beijing’s Winter Games.
  • July 2022: Bach declares there won’t be a dual award for the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games, telling a Japanese news agency that given “changing international circumstances,” the 2034 pick should wait until after his term as president ends in 2025.
  • August 2022: A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll finds that 79% of Utahns approve of hosting the Winter Games again. The results are attributed to “an Olympic spirit that has not gone away.”
  • September 2022: Sapporo bidders cancel plans to meet with IOC leaders in Switzerland as the Olympic bribery scandal surrounding payments made to organizers of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo begins to unfold.
  • September 2022: IOC postpones its annual session, scheduled to be held in India in May, until sometime in the fall due to issues with India’s national Olympic committee. That means at least a monthslong delay in the expected vote on a 2030 host.
The Olympic Cauldron burns again, marking the 20-year anniversary of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics opening ceremony at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
  • September 2022: USOPC leaders make it clear they’d rather see Utah host in 2034, not 2030, citing concerns about the financial impact of holding two Olympics in the United States just 18 months apart.
  • September 2022: German Olympic officials express interest in bidding for a future Olympics, suggesting an option may be the 2034 Winter Games since it’s “too late” to go for 2030.
  • October 2022: Vancouver’s bid for 2030 appears to be over after British Columbia announces it can’t support the “extraordinary expense” of hosting another Olympics in the Canadian province.
  • November 2022: Although some Olympic observers say Sapporo is the front-runner for 2030, Utah bidders remain confident the Winter Games are coming back to Utah. They’re less sure about whether it will be in 2030 or 2034.
  • November 2022: The price tag for a 2030 Winter Games in Sapporo goes up more than $100 million. A Japanese news outlet says Sapporo’s bid is “caught in a blizzard” after new indictments in Tokyo’s Olympic bribery scandal.
  • November 2022: The IOC’s Future Host Commission allots 50 minutes for Utah’s bid team to present their case for hosting in 2030 during a virtual meeting. Cox, who played a part in the pitch, says afterwards he’s “very confident that we will get one of those spots. The question is, which spot,” 2030 or 2034?
  • November 2022: Vancouver bidders also make a presentation to the Future Host Commission and Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic committees formally urge officials in British Columbia to reconsider their opposition to funding a Winter Games.
  • December 2022: Instead of advancing a city to contract negotiations for 2030, IOC leaders give the Future Host Commission more time to study the impact of climate change on the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the event among a group of permanent hosts. While there now won’t be a vote on a 2030 host at this fall’s session, Bach says a dual award for 2030 and 2034 is once again a possibility. No timeline is specified, although the IOC president said 2025 would be too late to name a 2030 host.
  • December 2022: Sapporo’s bid is put on pause as the Tokyo Olympic bribery scandal widens. While some suggest that makes Salt Lake City the only real choice left for 2030, others believe Sapporo’s focus on building more support will strengthen its bid.
  • January 2023: There could be new competition for the 2030 Winter Games, from a “European super bid” being put together by France, Switzerland and Italy. It’s a reminder that the IOC also made a point of saying the previous month new bids could still be considered.
  • January 2023: More than two-thirds of Sapporo residents oppose the Japanese city bidding for the 2030 Winter Games, according to a new poll by the Hokkaido Shimbun, a significant decline in support.
  • January 2023: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and three Olympians, including the the bid committee chair, hold a panel discussion about the impact the Olympics can have on climate change and sustainability at the Outdoor Retailers show.
  • January 2023: The IOC “might do well to reverse course and grab Salt Lake City while it can,” because public support for the bid could waver, warns Rich Perelman, a communications company boss involved with the Olympics for more than 40 years.
  • February 2023: A controversial IOC proposal that could allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes in the 2024 Summer Games in Paris sparks talk of a possible boycott by Ukraine that could have an impact on future Olympics.
  • February 2023: A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll finds 82% of Utahns support hosting another Winter Games. That’s up from a previous poll conducted the previous summer.
  • February 2023: Swedish Olympic officials announce they’re looking at bidding to host the 2030 Winter Games. A decision won’t come until after a feasibility study is completed this spring, but the IOC may be encouraging a bid already viewed as the front-runner.
  • February 2023: The Utah Legislature unanimously approves legislation giving lawmakers new oversight of the bid as well as the organization of a possible Olympics and offering assurances to the IOC about transportation and other services.
  • February 2023: The CEO of the USOPC, Sarah Hirshland, pledges Salt Lake City will get another Winter Games. During a visit to Utah timed to the Legislature’s vote, Hirshland said whether it’s 2030 or 2034 depends on if other bids are “viable.”
  • February 2023: Utah’s heavy snows are seen as showcasing Salt Lake City as “a reliable winter host for Games.” The record-setting winter could bode well for Salt Lake City’s chances of being included in any permanent rotation of Winter Games hosts.
  • March 2023: An IOC official acknowledges there are even more places eying a Winter Games than the six confirmed, but declines to name the new contenders or just how many bids there are now.
  • March 2023: Despite the unknown competition, USOPC Chairman Gene Sykes tells reporters the IOC wants Utah’s capital to wait to host until 2034 and “they have been looking to find a city that will offer a good alternative to Salt Lake City for 2030.”
  • April 2023: Switzerland’s national Olympic committee announces it’s looking at a Winter Games bid. That brings the number of places publicly expressing interest in bidding to five — Salt Lake City, Sapporo, Vancouver, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • April 2023: Sapporo may resume bidding, but for the 2034 Winter Games, the Japanese Olympic Committee said. Some say that means Salt Lake City is no longer a “shoo-in” for another Olympics and a Sapporo resident offers an apology for her country’s “bid pushers.”
  • April 2023: New polls show that nearly seven out of 10 Swedes are behind a late entry into the race to host the 2030 Winter Games but a majority of Australians in Queensland aren’t stoked about the 2032 Summer Games being held in Brisbane, their state’s capital.
  • April 2023: The push to bring a Major League Baseball team to Utah could mean a new stadium for Salt Lake City. Possible Winter Games uses include nightly medals award ceremonies or even competitions.
  • May 2023: French IOC member Guy Drut floats the idea of France bidding for 2030 by “bringing together the Southern Alps and the Northern Alps,” telling a national sports newspaper “If we succeed, we have a small chance” to get the Winter Games.
  • May 2023: What would be the first-ever Athlete Family Village at an Olympics is proposed by Utah’s bid team. While still “just an idea at this point,” the hope is to secure some 1,000 to 2,000 beds at the U. for the family members of competitors. The campus is already set to once again be the site of the Athletes Village.
  • June 2023: At the first meeting of the Utah Legislature’s new Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Coordination Committee, a lawmaker declares “we are ready” to host again after bid officials detailed their progress, including readying a pile of IOC paperwork reserved for “preferred hosts.”
  • June 2023: An IOC official now says there are a total of six contenders for 2030 but declines to identify the “sixth country” in talks to host. Another suggests a decision on which cities advance to contract negotiations could come as soon as October.
  • June 2023: Less than a week later, USOPC leaders call the IOC’s direction “very encouraging,” but says it won’t be clear whether Salt Lake City is being considered for 2030 or 2034 “until we know whether there is an alternative 2030 host.”
  • June 2023: Sapporo’s 2030 bid see as “still alive” after a new poll shows more public support and enhanced transparency and oversight measures are proposed to prevent the problems that plagued the Tokyo Games. But the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee still says “2030 will be quite hard.”
  • July 2023: German Olympic officials say they’re no longer looking at the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games as they launch a new effort to build support for a future Summer or Winter Games bid. There’s some speculation the unnamed 2030 bid city could be in China.
  • July 2023: Utah taxpayers have spent nearly $92 million on the state’s Olympic facilities in recent years, a total that could exceed $140 million as they’re readied for another Winter Games as well as for continued community and athlete use.
  • July 2023: Germany’s national Olympic committee announced it won’t go after the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games but will decide next year whether to bid for the 2038 or 2042 Winter Games, or for the 2036 or 2040 Summer Games.
  • July 2023: France officially gets into the race for 2030, with a bid from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions. France’s late entry raises questions about whether IOC rules would allow the final vote on the Winter Games sites to be held at next year’s annual session, being held in Paris, just before the 2024 Summer Games begin.
  • August 2023: The Hoberman Arch, an “iconic symbol’ from the 2002 Winter Games, gets a news home at the Salt Lake City International Airport after being refurbished.
  • September 2023: A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics polls finds there’s ‘exceptionally high’ support among Utahns for spending state tax dollars on Olympic facilities. Later, state lawmakers are seen as taking more control over the funds.
  • September 2023: Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who led the 2002 Winter Games, announces he won’t seek a second term, leading to speculation about whether he’ll play a role in another Utah Olympics.
  • September 2023: The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee formally endorses Utah’s Winter Games plans.
  • October 2023: Ahead of the IOC annual session being held in India, Fraser Bullock warns that without a ‘positive signal,’ it may become increasingly challenging to sustain support in Utah for a bid indefinitely.
  • October 2023: The IOC agrees to allow a dual award of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games, but the organization’s president pointedly says that doesn’t mean it has to happen. Still, Utah’s governor and other members of the bid team celebrate the IOC decision.
  • November 2023: Utah’s bid team makes what may be their final virtual presentation to the IOC Future Host Commission. “There is no city on earth more prepared for an Olympics right now,” Gov. Cox declares afterwards.
  • November 2023: Salt Lake City is named the ‘preferred host’ for the 2034 Winter Games and France’s French Alps bid receives the same designation for 2030. IOC leaders say there’s still work to be done in this phase of the bidding process, known as ‘targeted dialogue,’ before a final vote by the full membership next July.