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2030 Winter Olympics bid timeline: Countdown to a choice that’s not coming anytime soon

Why the wait continues to find out who’ll host upcoming Games

SHARE 2030 Winter Olympics bid timeline: Countdown to a choice that’s not coming anytime soon
Gabrielle Harris and YiYi O’Brien combine torches marking the 20th anniversary of the 2002 Winter Games.

Gabrielle Harris, of Team Soldier Hollow Cross Country and Biathlon, and YiYi O’Brien, National Abilities Center Youth Adaptive Program athlete, combine Olympic torches from 2002 as the flame at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City is lit on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, marking the 20th anniversary of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

This was supposed to be the year the International Olympic Committee settled on the site of the 2030 Winter Games based on bids from Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada.

There had even been a chance the choice would have been all but made by now, had IOC leaders singled out a bid city to advance to the contract negotiation stage of the new, less formal selection process during their December meeting.

But instead, they decided to upend an announced timeline that had already repeatedly shifted, putting off a pick likely until 2024 and reviving the possibility that hosts for both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games may be named together.

That would 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 competition venues — while providing an opening for new cities to get in the race.

While Salt Lake City is bidding for both 2030 and 2034, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has spelled out a preference for waiting longer after the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles to avoid a feared financial hit to domestic sponsorship sales.

Still, some have suggested Salt Lake City is now the obvious choice for 2030 because Sapporo’s bid is on hold after being hurt by the growing Olympic bribery scandal involving organizers of the 2020 Summer Games held in Tokyo.

Others say the IOC favors Sapporo. The delayed decision on 2030 offers more time for Sapporo to overcome the scandal’s impact, and even for Vancouver to resurrect its bid after the British Columbia government declined to provide critical financial backing.

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

What all this means for Salt Lake City’s hopes of bringing back the Olympics after successfully hosting the 2002 Winter Games remains to be seen but it’s clear there won’t be any answers soon.

Utah’s bid team, meanwhile, continues to be “deeply engaged,” said Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games. “We believe we have all the pieces to be a fantastic host of the Games, either in 2030 or 2034.”

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.
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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.”
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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.
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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 last 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.