Salt Lake City, Sapporo, Vancouver — and Stockholm? Or maybe Falun, Åre or even Östersund, which unsuccessfully bid for the 2002 Winter Games that went to Salt Lake City?
Sweden is considering joining the U.S., Japan and Canada in the race to host the 2030 Winter Games now that the International Olympic Committee decided last December to postpone choosing a host likely until some time next year and welcomed new bids.
Swedish Olympic officials said they met with the IOC in January at the organization’s Swiss headquarters to discuss a bid, and are conducting a feasibility study set to be released in April, according to insidethegames.biz.
The Nordic nation that hosted the 1912 Summer Games has failed eight times to land a Winter Games, most recently losing to Milan-Cortina, Italy, for 2026. Stockholm pulled out of the running for 2022 due to a lack of public support, which has continued to be an issue.
“These are new times now and the feasibility study will show how the Olympics and Paralympics can be shaped based on Sweden’s conditions,” Anders Larsson, acting chairman of the Swedish Olympic Committee, told reporters, according to NBC Sports.
Larsson said the meeting with the IOC “was about, without obligation from any quarter, looking at the Games in 2030,” adding, “it was clear that the IOC liked our concept for 2026.”
The IOC said in a statement to insidethegames.biz that it “welcomes this renewed interest from the Swedish Olympic committee, which previously proposed a project for the Olympic Winter Games 2026.”
The possibility of another bid comes as the IOC faces what may be a shrinking field of candidates for 2030, similar to what happened when Stockholm and other cities dropped out of the running for the 2022 Winter Games, leaving only Beijing, China, and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Since then, a new, less formal bid process has been adopted that the IOC says leaves it “permanently open to informal and non-committal discussions with any cities, regions or countries” interested in hosting.
In the 2030 race, Sapporo’s bid is on hold due to the fallout from Japan’s Olympic bribery scandal involving organizers of the 2020 Summer Games held a year later in Tokyo, and Vancouver’s bid has been rebuffed by British Columbia leaders.
There’s strong support in Utah for another Winter Games, but with Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Summer Games, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has made it clear it would be better financially for Salt Lake City to wait until 2034.
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games has no qualms about Sweden’s interest in bidding for 2030.
“I applaud them for taking another look,” Bullock said. “Any city that steps forward to put together a bid, I think it’s fantastic. It’s good for the Olympic movement, particularly the Winter Games.”
Asked if it was fair for a new contender to get in the race at this point, Bullock noted Sweden already had “put in a ton of work for 2026. So under the new, flexible approach that the IOC has, absolutely they can step in and see if they can put a bid together.”
Sweden may be getting some encouragement to jump into the mix from IOC President Thomas Bach, said Mark Conrad, director of the sports program at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business in New York City.
“My thinking is — and it’s just speculation — that Bach really wanted somebody else to bid for 2030,” Conrad said, given Sapporo’s situation and the “outside pressures” on Salt Lake City’s bid because of the potential impact of back-to-back U.S. Games on sponsor revenues.
The first hint that more cities might be coming was the IOC’s decision not to finalize the host of the 2030 Winter Games this fall, he said, a move made “so they could bring others into the picture.”
There’s recently been talk of a surprise “European super bid” from a region that includes 1924 Winter Games host Chamonix, France, and two cities that previously competed against Salt Lake City for an Olympics: Aosta, Italy, for 1998, and Sion, Switzerland, for 2002.
If Sweden does end up bidding for 2030, “the cards will shift, meaning I think they would give Sweden serious consideration,” Conrad said, adding, “And if Sweden’s bid is credible, I think it has a good chance.”
Salt Lake City “would be a shoo-in for ’34,” the professor said, because it held “a very successful past Olympics. It has the facilities. It has the popular support. I almost think it’s a no-brainer.”
The 2030 and 2034 Winter Games may be awarded at the same time by the IOC. No date has been set for the picks to be made, although it could happen when the IOC meets in Paris ahead of the 2024 Summer Games there.