Sweden’s potential bid for the 2030 Winter Games just got a big boost, along with some encouragement from the leader of the committee trying to bring the Olympics back to Utah.
A new poll commissioned by the Swedish Olympic Committee found that nearly seven out of 10 Swedes want to make a late entry into the race to host in 2030, an increase in the level of support shown for previous bids.
But that’s only if a preliminary study still underway concludes “Sweden has the opportunity to implement sustainable, democratic and cost-effective Games,” according to a translation of a news release about the results.
A decision is expected no later than July on whether Sweden will join Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; and an unknown number of other possible new 2030 bidders that could include Switzerland.
Salt Lake City is also bidding for the 2034 Winter Games and has stated a preference for waiting four years to bring another Olympics to the state because of the financial hurdles of competing for sponsors with Los Angeles, host of the 2028 Summer Games.
The latest news from Sweden was met with enthusiasm by Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games behind the bid that’s been underway for years.
“Sweden would be a great host of a future Games. It is a country with a rich tradition of winter sport but has yet to host Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” said Bullock, who served as chief operating officer of Salt Lake City’s first Olympics, in 2002.
“We are hoping there is a strong, viable host for 2030, which would allow us to focus exclusively on our bid for 2034, our preferred choice. Sweden, or perhaps another bidder, could be a great 2030 host,” he said.
Sapporo soon may shift its bid to 2034, abandoning hopes for 2030 amid increasing opposition from the public as Japan deals with an expanding Olympic bribery and bid-rigging scandal from the 2020 Summer Games held in Tokyo a year late due to COVID-19.
Vancouver, meanwhile, is apparently still struggling to secure a pledge of more than $1 billion in needed government backing for what would be the first-ever indigenous-led Olympics.
That’s left the International Olympic Committee looking to new locations for 2030, New bids have been encouraged since IOC leaders decided last December to delay choosing the sites for 2030 and now likely 2034, too, probably until some time next year.
The IOC won’t name the places in talks to host a Winter Games, or even how many there are now beyond the six initially confirmed. Sweden and Switzerland have publicly expressed interest in 2030, but it’s not clear if there are unknown contenders for those Games.
Bullock said any place “that pursues hosting a Games deserves our respect and appreciation. It is a big, complex ambition that strives to bring the world together in a positive manner.”
He said “Sweden’s positive public support” as evidenced in the new poll means the Nordic nation “meets a key step in becoming a future host. We wish them the very best of success.”
Even before the poll, Sweden was being seen as a frontrunner for 2030.
The winter sports powerhouse has failed more than a half-dozen times to land a Winter Games, most recently losing a bid for 2026 to Milan and Cortina, Italy; and dropping out of the running for 2022 due to a lack of public support.
IOC President Thomas Bach blamed Stockholm’s second-place finish in the last Winter Games to be awarded on “the gap in public support” for hosting between the Swedes and the Italians, GamesBids.com reported.
Salt Lake City has repeatedly shown strong public support for bringing back the Olympics. In February, a Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll found more than 80% of Utahns approve of hosting again.
The new poll of some 3,330 Swedes conducted earlier this month also asked about support for hosting an Olympics if no new venues were built and if the funding came entirely from private sources, such as sponsorships.
Not surprisingly, even more Swedes, 74%, were positive about a Winter Games that didn’t call for new construction and the same number, about one that didn’t require public financing that’s common outside the United States.
And while three-quarters were positive about how Sweden organizes other major sports championships, a whopping 89% felt the same way about their nation’s ability to host a Winter Games.
“We are good at organizing sports events in Sweden and it is positive that the public now shows confidence in the ability of sports to be a force in the development of sustainability and democracy,” Swedish Sports Confederation Chairman Björn Eriksson said.
Eriksson said the next step is “to see what the feasibility study shows about the conditions that actually exist to succeed with it.” More than 100 meetings about the bid have already taken place, including with several potential host cities, the news release said.
An update on the study launched in February is expected next month.