Could the 2036 Summer Games be in China?

Yes, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said, although he made it clear China would face competition from at least 10 other places that have expressed interest in hosting the next Summer Games to be awarded.

“Candidatures from China are always the most welcomed,” Bach told Xinhua, China’s official state news agency, last weekend during a five-day visit to the country that hosted both the 2008 Summer Games and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

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“But right now we have already allocated the hosts until 2032, so China still has some time to think about the next candidature, which will be 2036,” he said, according to a story posted Sunday on the Xinhua website.

Described by China Daily as “keen for China to throw its hat into the ring once again,” Bach said he’s “very sure and really looking forward to many major international sports events taking place in China in the coming years.”

China has been a controversial Olympic host because of its record on human rights, although Bach has complained to leaders of Utah’s bid to host the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games the United States should have been more supportive of last year’s Beijing Games.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who led the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, successfully pushed for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Games to protest China’s treatment of its ethnic minorities and dissidents.

Bach told Xinhua that the international competitions still taking place in China “shows the great confidence the world of international sports has in China as a host and organizer and how much we all appreciate the warm hospitality of the Chinese people.”

However, the IOC president also said there are “already a two-digit number of interested National Olympic Committees or regions who want to organize the Olympic Games in 2036,” a list that may include his native Germany.

“There is still some time to go. We will maybe have a better feeling how the world will look like in 2036 than we do at this very moment now,” Bach said.

Just when the IOC will choose a host for 2036 remains to be seen under the Switzerland-based organization’s new, less formal bidding process. Brisbane, Australia, was awarded the 2032 Summer Games almost two years ago, before any rivals had emerged.

But when it comes to the Winter Games, the IOC is taking the opposite approach.

Last December, Bach and the rest of the IOC Executive Board decided to delay naming the 2030 host, opening the door to new competitors and launching a study of the impact of climate change that could call for rotating future Winter Games among permanent hosts.

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Now, in addition to Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada; more places are vying for a Winter Games, including potential bids from Sweden and Switzerland. The IOC has declined to name the contenders, saying only there are now more than six.

Xinhua reported Bach indicated at least the siting of the 2030 Winter Games “will happen next year,” telling the Chinese state news agency, “By then we will have a clearer picture on the overall impact of climate change and the other challenges winter sports are facing.”

The IOC may select hosts for both 2030 and 2034 next year. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Utah’s bid team have spelled out a preference for the later date to avoid a financial clash with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.