After more than a decade of bidding to host another Winter Games, Salt Lake City may finally find out within days from the International Olympic Committee if that’s going to be decided sooner rather than later.

IOC leaders aren’t expected to select their preferred Winter Games candidates until later this year. But whether the sites for 2030 and 2034 should be named at the same time is on the agenda for key IOC meetings in India that start Thursday.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games is bidding to host either 2030 or 2034, but want the later date to avoid competing for domestic sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

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There’s no set timeline for the IOC to pick hosts under the new, less formal bid process so without a dual award, it could be several more years before Salt Lake City finds out if the Olympics are coming back.

Fraser Bullock, the bid committee’s president and CEO, doesn’t want to wait that long. He suggested in a recent interview with Sports Business Journal that it might be hard to sustain the backing of Utahns without some sort of “positive signal” from the IOC.

“We’ve been at this for 11 years. Fortunately, the people of Utah are very supportive of the Olympics and Paralympics. However, holding that interest indefinitely would be incredibly challenging. That’s why we are hoping for progress this year,” Bullock told Sports Business Journal.

He told the Deseret News the challenge comes as “things change in the world, in terms of economic situations, political situations. Right now, we have all the pieces perfectly lined up — strong public support, strong political support, strong business community support.”

Bullock said even if the IOC agrees in the coming days just to keep talking about a dual award, that would be viewed as progress.

“We don’t know where it will end up,” he said. “For us, the more definitive direction the better, obviously.”

Time for a commitment from the IOC?

Mark Conrad, director of the sports program at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business in New York City, was more blunt about the message he believes Salt Lake City wants to make clear to the IOC.

“It’s sent for a power play, to say, ‘We’re here. We want it,’” but it’s time for the IOC to “make a commitment now, because we won’t wait,” the professor said, adding, “You can’t let a city keep waiting and waiting and waiting. I mean, that’s not really fair.”

Utah has been eying another Olympics since hosting the 2002 Winter Games, although another bid wasn’t launched until 2012. It took another six years for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to back an American bid for a Winter Games.

Terrence Burns, CEO of T. Burns Sports Group, who worked on Sweden’s failed bid for the 2026 Winter Games, told Sports Business Journal action on a dual award may bode well for Salt Lake City’s efforts finally succeeding.

“I hope that it suggests that they’re the ’34 choice,” said Burns. “They have been at it a long time, and Fraser Bullock and his team, they have done an incredible job that’s quite difficult maintaining political, public and commercial support and interest in this bid.”

Another bid consultant, U.K.-based Nick Varley, told Sport Business Journal that Salt Lake City is “regarded perhaps as more of a favorite than some of the bids that have come along quite late in the day,” citing the bid’s longevity.

“That sort of long-term planning and strategy and campaigning is exactly what the IOC wants to see,” Varley, who has served as a communications consultant on Summer Games bids since 2012, said. “That’s the model they want to embrace.”

Last December, IOC leaders were expected to advance at least their 2030 picks to the next stage of the bid process known as targeted dialogue for contract negotiations, choosing between Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada.

But with both Sapporo and Vancouver running into issues with needed support for their bids, the IOC Executive Board delayed the decision for a study on climate change, including a possible rotation of future Winter Games among cities with reliably cold temperatures.

IOC President Thomas Bach also announced a dual award for 2030 and 2034 would be considered. Bach, whose term as IOC president ends in 2025, had previously wanted to leave the 2034 pick to his successor.

The idea of a dual award is not new. When the IOC selected Paris as the host of the 2024 Summer Games some six years ago, runner-up Los Angeles was given the next Summer Games, in 2028.

What’s next for Utah’s Olympic bid

New competition for the Winter Games has emerged since the IOC delayed a decision on 2030, with Sweden, Switzerland and France getting in the race. Sapporo just ended its 2030 bid but will keep trying for a later Winter Games, possibly as soon as 2034.

Despite talk IOC leaders may go ahead and advance Winter Games bids to targeted dialogue during this month’s meetings, Bullock said he doesn’t see that happening “until some time later this year, hopefully.”

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In India, the Executive Board will meet Thursday and Friday, and the full membership will hold their annual session Sunday and Monday. The session will hear a report from the head of the IOC’s Future Host Commission, according to the IOC media relations team.

Asked if any discussion about moving 2030/2034 Winter Games bids to targeted dialogue is anticipated at this month’s IOC meetings, the media relations team referred to the charge given the commission last December.

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They said that was to “investigate and report back on a number of strategic proposals that could influence future elections: the impact of climate change on the Winter Games, the notion of rotation, and the possibility of making a double award for 2030 and 2034.”

Bullock said Utah’s bid team, which includes Gov. Spencer Cox, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and U.S. Olympic leaders, expect to make a virtual presentation to the Future Host Commission in November.

The IOC Executive Board is expected to receive recommendations from the commission at its Nov. 30-Dec. 1 meeting, where there’s anticipation that “preferred hosts” for 2030 and possibly 2034 will be determined.

A final vote by the full IOC membership to ratify the IOC Executive Board’s picks could come at next year’s annual session, held just before the start of the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

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