New Winter Games bids may be attracting attention, but Salt Lake City is still the front-runner to host again in either 2030 or 2034, a top U.S. Olympic and Paralympic official told reporters Thursday.

“Certainly there is more talk about them,” USOPC Chair Gene Sykes said of the late entries from France, Sweden and Switzerland. “I say again, there are not likely to be bids that are more attractive than the Salt Lake City, Utah bid, for 2030 or 2034.”

The list of Winter Games hopefuls also includes Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada.

Sykes also spelled out that nothing’s changed about wanting Salt Lake City to wait until the later date to avoid competing for domestic sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

How France’s 2030 Winter Olympics bid is ‘moving forward’

Calling 2034 “the optimal time for the United States to host a Winter Games,” he said the IOC has been told that’s “definitely our preference, and we’re in a position to work with them on 2030 if they need us.”

But the IOC “is also working very hard to develop an alternative bid for 2030 from a very credible host. So we will wait and see and watch carefully. I’m very pleased to say Salt Lake City is exceptionally well-prepared,” Sykes said.

His comments came during a media briefing about Wednesday’s USOPC board meeting that included a presentation by the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games about the massive bid file being put together for the IOC.

The USOPC board gave the thousands of pages of details about another Winter Games in Utah “a firm endorsement,” Sykes said. The materials won’t be turned over to the IOC until the next stage of the bid process.

That’s when IOC leaders decide which bids to advance to contract negotiations, likely for both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games. A decision on the “preferred hosts” anticipated last December was delayed, and now could come as soon as October.

A final ratification vote by the full IOC membership is expected some time next year.

“Our hope is the work of the Utah team, and their incredibly detailed and thoughtful plan with great public support, will be rewarded by the IOC in short order,” Sykes said, acknowledging the timing isn’t clear under the new, less formal selection process.

View Comments

He said Utah bidders have “done an exceptional job” over the past decade “laying a foundation” with the IOC, especially Fraser Bullock, the bid committee president and CEO, and the chief operating officer of Utah’s last Olympics, the 2002 Winter Games.

From the U.S. Senate back to the Olympics? What could be next for Mitt Romney

“I just can’t emphasize enough for you how much comfort the people who ultimately lead this decision have,” Sykes said, describing it as “a great service to our country if we can have two Olympic and Paralympic Games in a decade.”

Bullock called the USOPC endorsement “a significant milestone” that hopefully “positions us well” with the IOC as Utah offers “a superb, reliable Games to the world.” He also praised retiring U.S. Sen.Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the leader of the 2002 Winter Games.

Romney, who announced Wednesday he would not seek a second term in the the Senate, has served as an informal adviser to the bid but told the Deseret News, “it’s time for the next generation” to lead any future Winter Games in Utah.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.