Could the International Olympic Committee decide in October whether Salt Lake City will host another Winter Games?

“This whole system now is flexible so all things are entirely possible. And obviously, that could happen if they were to decide that it was worth advancing,” the IOC’s director of communications, Mark Adams, said during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

Moving up the timeline for choosing the hosts of the 2030 and likely the 2034 Winter Games was not discussed Wednesday by the IOC Executive Board, which heard a report from the commission evaluating candidates, Adams said.

He said while a final vote “is expected no later” than just before the 2024 Summer Games begin in Paris, under the IOC’s new, less formal bid process “we can adapt to the pace of each of the hosts depending on changing circumstances.”

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It remains to be seen what that means for Utah’s Olympic hopes — as well as those of the other five contenders, Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; new bidders Sweden and Switzerland; and an unidentified “sixth country” confirmed Tuesday.

Even the number of cities competing to host a future Winter Games remains flexible. The IOC, which had previously said there was new interest that added an unknown number of contenders, has consistently declined to identify bids not already publicly announced.

The current list of potential hosts in discussion with the IOC all have “recent experience of hosting World Cups and championships and have a highly developed sports market,” Adams said, stressing that the field may change.

“It could increase in number. It could decrease in number, still,” he said, noting the executive board regularly receives updates on which cities have expressed interest from the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games.

“Based on those reports, the (executive board) will determine the time frame,” Adams said. For now, he said, the IOC is using the time to “help to develop the vision, legacy structure and so on, sustainable Games plan, for all of those interested parties.”

Should the IOC ‘grab Salt Lake City while it can’ to host the 2030 Winter Games?

The new bid process calls for the Future Host Commission, set to meet in November, to make recommendations to the executive board charged with choosing which cities advance to what’s known as targeted dialogue as the preferred picks to host.

That had been expected to come at the end of the year, when the executive board meets in late November and early December. But the executive board is also meeting in October, just before the IOC’s annual session is held.

“We recognize bidding processes are fluid and our strategy is to be ready for whatever comes,” said Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games behind the state’s bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games.

However, Bullock said he doesn’t anticipate a decision on targeted dialogue in October.

That’s because when IOC leaders delayed that decision last December it was to study the impact of climate change and whether future Winter Games should rotate among pre-selected hosts, as well as if the 2030 and 2034 hosts should be named at the same time.

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Utah bidders are hoping there’s a dual award for the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games since their preference is to wait until the later date to avoid competing for domestic sponsorships with Los Angeles, the host of the 2028 Summer Games.

That, along with the other issues raised last December, is set to be decided at the IOC’s October meetings.

“We don’t have expectations of entering targeted dialogue at that point in time. We believe if we are fortunate to be selected for targeted dialogue it would be after a future IOC Executive Board meeting,” Bullock said.

The former chief operating officer of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Bullock said the new bid process is “positive” and “enjoyable,” despite not knowing exactly when the IOC will name the next Winter Games hosts.

“They’re trying to help us with the best bid. They understand what our preference is. It’s not competing against other cites. It’s switched from that dynamic to one of partnership with the IOC to find out what best fits the Olympic movement and best fits the city,” Bullock said.

Plus, he said, “underneath it all, our foundation is we have a fantastic bid. That’s what gives us confidence toward hosting a future Winter Games.”