Switzerland is officially in the running to host a Winter Games.
In a statement posted in French and German, the Swiss Olympic committee confirmed moving from an informal to an “ongoing dialogue” with the International Olympic Committee about bidding for an unspecified Winter Games.
Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; and possibly Stockholm, Sweden; are already in the race for the 2030 Winter Games, although Salt Lake City has stated a preference for hosting in 2034.
But IOC officials, who previously confirmed there were six places vying for a Winter Games, said last week there are now even more under the new, less formal bid process that allows discussions to remain confidential until the later stages.
What’s not been divulged is the identity of all contenders for 2030 or beyond, or the size of the field. With Switzerland’s announcement late last week, just five current Winter Games bids have been made public.
Switzerland had been part of a so-called “European super bid” being put together with sites in Italy and France that appeared to fall apart after the mayor of the French city involved, Chamonix, said he wasn’t interested.
Swiss Olympic officials said in the statement they have had an “Olympic Winter Games Switzerland” coordination office in place since May 2022 and will serve as the sole point of contact for a bid, to “bring together the various projects and forces involved.”
The discussions with the IOC are “not tied to any particular organizing year,” a translation of the statement said, spelling out that there will be a “thorough examination” before any new Swiss candidacy.
“A bid concept will only have a chance if it is sustainable and the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games leaves a legacy beyond sport — for society, the economy and Switzerland as a place of innovation,” the statement said.
Switzerland has hosted the Winter Games twice, in 1928 and 1948, in St. Moritz, but lost four subsequent bids even though the country is home to the IOC. One of those attempts, by Sion, was to host the 2002 Winter Games that went to Salt Lake City.
Swiss voters have rejected several Winter Games bids before they got to an IOC vote due to the expense involved, including Sion’s effort to host the 2026 Winter Games being held in Milan and Cortina, Italy.
Sion was the Swiss city in talks about the multination European Winter Games bid with Chamonix, France, and Aosta, Italy, which bid along with Salt Lake City for the 1998 Winter Games that went to Nagano, Japan.
A decision on a 2030 host by the IOC was postponed last December, opening the door to new candidates. Swedish Olympic officials are expected to make a decision soon about bidding, while other cities may yet emerge as contenders.
Sapporo had been seen as a frontrunner for 2030, but the Japanese bid has been paused due to fallout from an expanding Olympic bribery and bid-rigging scandal stemming from the 2020 Summer Games held in Tokyo a year late due to COVID-19.
And Vancouver’s hopes of hosting the first Indigenous-led Olympics faltered after British Columbia officials refused to pledge more than $1 billion in taxpayer funding. IOC officials, however, have said talks are still underway with the Canadian city.
Salt Lake City’s bid leaders have repeatedly said Utah is ready to host in 2030 if needed, but would rather wait four more years to avoid any financial conflict with 2028 Summer Games in another American city, Los Angeles.
The IOC is likely to choose both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games hosts some time next year.