Is there more competition for Salt Lake City’s bid to host another Olympics?

The International Olympic Committee’s executive director, Christophe Dubi, now says there are five places interested in the 2030 Winter Games in addition to Sweden, which is already seen as a frontrunner after announcing recently that a bid is being considered.

Besides Salt Lake City, the only other cites in the running are Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada. That adds up to four possible choices for the IOC, not the six Dubi brought up in an interview with The Associated Press.

So who are the other contenders? Dubi declined to tell the AP.

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Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, didn’t have an answer.

“I don’t know, but going back a year ago, we heard the possibility that Sweden might get in. We saw the efforts of several cities in Europe trying to collaborate to get together,” Bullock said, unable to come up with a sixth possibility.

He said there would be a lot of work ahead for any newcomers.

“We are hopeful that one of them emerges as a successful, well, as a successful bidder for 2030. Because 2034 is still our preferred choice,” he said. “We also know that it’s really hard to put together a bid and get it all the way to the finish line.”

Where could other 2030 Olympic bids be from?

The so-called “European super bid” from France, Switzerland and Italy, surfaced in January to much fanfare, although the mayor of the French city involved, Chamonix, said going after a tri-country Olympics “is not on the agenda,” suggesting to some it would be scrapped.

Toronto-based GamesBids.com producer Robert Livingstone, who wrote in January that the European bid would not be viable without Chamonix, said the IOC is probably still counting it as a show of interest in 2030, along with Barcelona’s failed bid.

The Spanish beachside city, host of the 1992 Summer Games, tried to put together a 2030 Winter Games bid with communities in the Pyrenees mountain region but pulled out of the race amid intense infighting over venue locations.

An earlier bid by Ukraine ended when Russia invaded a year ago.

But the IOC’s decision in December to delay choosing a 2030 host not only opened the door to new competition, but also has given Sapporo, Vancouver and even Barcelona more time to pull together bids.

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Sapporo bidders put their efforts on hold to deal with the impact of Japan’s widening Olympic bribery and bid-rigging scandals tied to the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo that were held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Vancouver, the issue is government support. British Columbia leaders rejected a request to pledge more than $1 billion toward hosting what would be the first Indigenous-led Olympics.

Livingstone said the IOC always wants to encourage competition by suggesting there’s no shortage of cities that want to host a future Olympics. That’s especially true for the Winter Games, where favored cities have dropped out due to a lack of public support.

“They always bloat those numbers,” he said, adding it has “been ongoing for years, where the numbers always seem to be inflated. I’m not saying they’re incorrect, but (Dubi is) including everyone who’s ever come up to him and pitched an idea.”

Under the IOC’s new, less formal bidding process, cities can privately discuss hosting. Livingstone said that may mean there’s also interest from cities like Beijing, host of the 2022 Winter Games that sparked a U.S.-led diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights record.

Will the Winter Games rotate between a few cities?

Dubi, who was in Milan to review the Italian city’s preparations for the 2026 Winter Games, said the IOC isn’t in a hurry to line up the next winter host, in part because of the need to consider rotating among a set group of cities so new facilities don’t need to be built.

“Is it something that is appealing for winter sports, appealing for those hosts? And we tend to believe it is the case. Northern Italy ’06, ’26, Sapporo, Salt Lake City is interested as well in the future,” the IOC official told the AP.

“So is there a trend whereby once you have invested, you want to re-host in the future? So we need to look into that,” Dubi said.

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The IOC Executive Board has asked the staff to come up with “some strategic thinking” about siting future Winter Games, he said. Not mentioned was climate change, already limiting the number of previous Winter Games host with reliable snow conditions.

How long that takes isn’t the issue, Dubi suggested.

“And whether it’s in 2024 or onwards, let’s say that that’s not so important. We need to have the right strategy,” he said. Dubi noted that the Milan-Cortina bid was selected seven years in advance, the traditional timetable for naming a host.

“But one could argue that you can do with less,” he said, adding, “if anywhere you go, everything is ready, 100% built, (there’s) no reason to award the Games seven years out. So we’re not really in a rush. We want to do the right thing.”

Utah’s bid team has maintained it’s ready to host when needed, whether that’s 2030 or 2034. But there’s concerns about the financial fallout from hosting in 2030, just 18 months after the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Bullock said a decision still needs to be made about whether Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Games, would want to be considered by the IOC for any future rotation plan.

“I think we are a natural fit, an excellent candidate. But the dialog has to be held with our communities to make sure that we’re all aligned, that this would make sense for each of our venue communities and for our state,” he said.

“Naturally, I am hopeful and believe that it does,” Bullock said. “But that process needs to take place.”