The leader of Utah’s efforts to land another Winter Games preemptively answered what he called “the question” Thursday at the first meeting of the Legislature’s new Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Coordination Committee.

“Is it 2030 or 2034? Our answer is yes. We are willing to host either Games, whichever is in the best interest of the Olympic and Paralympic movements and Utah,” said Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games.

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But the preference continues to be to wait until 2034.

“The reason for that is hosting Games in 2030 would only be 18 months after Los Angeles hosted the Summer Games in 2028. That would create a potential negative impact on domestic sponsorship revenue, being that close together,” Bullock explained.

He pointed out that earlier Thursday, backers of hosting the 2030 Winter Games in Sweden announced they’re moving to the next phase of the International Olympic Committee’s new, less formal bid process.

“For us, that’s good news,” Bullock assured the legislative committee during an hour-long presentation on the bid, because “potentially they or someone else would fill the 2030 slot then we could be 2034.”

That “ideal scenario” could be a reality by the end of the year, when IOC leaders are expected to advance their “preferred” choices for the 2030 and likely 2034 Winter Games to contract negotiations, with a final vote coming in mid-2024.

Already, most of the massive amount of paperwork required of “preferred hosts” has already been completed by Utah’s bid team, including contracts for nearly 19,000 of the 24,000 hotel rooms needed.

But before that scenario can play out, Bullock said IOC members have to authorize a dual award of the 2030 and 2034 Games, a decision anticipated to be made at their annual meeting in October that’s being held in India.

At that same meeting this fall, the IOC is also expected to talk about climate change and the possibility of rotating the Winter Games among a limited group of cities deemed able to provide cold enough conditions for competition.

“There would be a short list of winter hosts that have the Games every ‘X’ number of years so the Games could continually come back to Utah,” Bullock said, adding whether the state would be willing to join that list is yet to be decided.

“Is this something we would want to do? We believe yes,” he said. “But we certainly haven’t had that discussion.”

Darren Hughes, bid lead for the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, left, Fraser Bullock, committee president and CEO, and Catherine Raney Norman, committee chairwoman, speak during the first meeting of Utah Legislature’s Olympic Coordination Committee at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 15, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

What’s happening with Swedish, Japanese 2030 bids?

Swedish Olympic Committee Chairman Hans von Uthmann said the IOC welcomed what was described as “intensifying” discussions about holding the 2030 Games, according to a translation of a news release posted online Thursday.

“We have done a good job so far and found the basic conditions to be able to deliver sustainable, democratic and cost-effective games. We see that together we have the opportunity, know-how and will,” von Uthmann said.

Sweden’s bid would involve Stockholm, Falun and Ostersund, which sought the 2002 Winter Games that went to Salt Lake City. It comes as Japanese officials have decided to hold off on backing a bid by Sapporo, once the frontrunner for 2030, until 2034 or later.

Sapporo had been struggling to secure public support for a bid amid a bribery scandal from the 2020 Summer Games held in Tokyo a year later due to COVID-19. The only other known 2030 contender, Vancouver, Canada, has yet to secure needed government backing.

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Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Coordination Committee Co-Chairmen Sen. Michael K. McKell, R-Spanish Fork, right, and Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, attend the first meeting of Utah Legislature’s Olympic Coordination Committee at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 15, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

‘The wind at our backs’

Government support hasn’t been an issue for Utah’s Winter Games bid. One of the bid committee’s more than 40 slides noted they have already achieved 100% of the guarantees required by the IOC from state and local governments.

Earlier this year, Utah lawmakers unanimously approved legislation giving them a larger role in overseeing another Olympics, including authorizing the governor to sign the host city contract with the IOC that makes the state ultimately responsible for the $2.2 billion event.

Bullock reminded the legislative committee that the Olympics would not require any funding from the state or local taxpayers, calling them “really privately financed,” largely from money raised through the sale of broadcast rights, sponsorships and tickets.

He ended the presentation by telling lawmakers, “we could not do this without your support. You are the wind at our backs ... we know that you’re behind us and that makes such a big difference.”

The committee’s co-chairman, Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, was equally enthusiastic.

“My takeaway is we are ready, we are on schedule and you’ve got solid support here in the state of Utah, both in the executive branch and in the Legislature — and the public,” McKell said, adding that cannot be overstated.

He said the committee members, who mostly listened Thursday, are “going to track your progress. Obviously, bringing the Olympics is a huge commitment for the state of Utah and it’s one we’re excited to make.”

Catherine Raney Norman, chairwoman of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, Darren Hughes, the committee’s bid lead, and Colin Hilton, CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, confer following the first meeting of Utah Legislature’s Olympic Coordination Committee at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 15, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News