A pair of International Olympic Committee officials heaped praise on Salt Lake City’s bid for the 2034 Winter Games during a briefing Monday about their scheduled visit to Utah in April, saying the city that’s already been named the preferred host “offers it all.”

Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, recalled the success of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City at the start of the media call about the Future Host Commission’s upcoming trip that will help determine whether Utah’s bid advances to a final vote in July.

“You know that punchline, ‘We’ll be back?’ That’s probably what we all thought in 2002 when leaving Salt Lake City. It was such a great experience for the entire Olympic family that many promised that the city ... would host the Games again,” Dubi said, adding that “we’re not there yet” but “we are progressing extremely well.”

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Salt Lake City was advanced to what’s known as preferred host status for the 2034 Winter Games by the IOC Executive Board in December because the Utah capital “offers it all, staring with the existing venues, the incredible expertise that has been developed over time across all of the Olympics sports and also tremendous support.”

Jacqueline Barrett, the IOC’s Future Olympic Games Hosts director, chimed in with comments about Salt Lake City’s “experienced partners with great expertise,” along with competition venues like ski jumps and a speedskating oval that have remained in use by both elite and community athletes since 2002.

“What’s fabulous to see is that Salt Lake and Utah are so enthusiastic, and so keen, on hosting the Games again. I think that is clearly a demonstration of what was a fabulously successful Games, a great experience,” Barrett said. “They want to recreate that for a new generation.”

The five day visit that begins with the late night arrival on April 9 of more than a dozen IOC members, officials and staff is a key step in the IOC’s new, less formal bid process that saw Salt Lake City move from “continuous” to “targeted” dialogue for another Olympics.

At the end of February, Gov. Spencer Cox; Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall; Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton; and House Speaker Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, joined leaders of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games and young athletes at the state Capitol to formally submit bid documents.

Another submission is due at the end of March that includes government guarantees to cover the estimated $2.45 billion price tag for what is expected to be a privately funded 2034 Games, if the sale of sponsorship, broadcast rights and tickets fall short of generating the needed revenue.

Before the Future Host Commission wraps up its report, the bid committee also will make a presentation to IOC members and international sports federations. If the IOC leaders who make up the Executive Board give the go-ahead in June, the full IOC membership would vote on the 2034 host on July 24, Pioneer Day in Utah.

Fraser Bullock, the bid committee’s president and CEO, said the visit by the Future Host Commission, led by Austria IOC member Karl Stoss, is “very important” because commission members “do the groundwork for the rest of the IOC” under the new bid process.

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As part of that process, two years ago the IOC quietly sent a trio of unidentified inspectors and a few staff members to check out the details of Utah’s bid in what was described as a “below the radar” visit, off limits to the news media as well as the public.

Not so this time around. Not only did the IOC hold a virtual media briefing about the April visit, the delegation coming to the state intends to interact with Utahns while they’re here. Barrett said “we want to make sure we have the opportunity” to hear from Utahns, promising to “be as open as we possibly can be” with the public.

“That’s something we’re discussing,” she said, as plans are being finalized with the bid committee. “We don’t want to keep people away. Absolutely not. These are Games for the people. We want ... everybody to be happy about it, looking forward to it. But we want also to be realistic and to ensure everyone is listening, too, if there are concerns.”

Bullock said a public forum in Salt Lake City is in the works, but will be invitation only due to space constraints. The bid committee leader said the public will be represented by government and community leaders as well as a cross-section of various constituent groups.

He said the bid is at a different stage than it was in 2022, when the technical team steered clear of any publicity.

“We’ve now been designated a preferred host and the IOC wants to be very transparent in this process. As such, we will have a lot of media interaction during our visit that we’re excited about,” Bullock said. Other events include a lunch in Park City and a dinner in Salt Lake City with leaders from those communities.

“One of the key things is we want them to interact with many of our people,” Bullock said, including during tours of each venue. He said the bid committee wants the IOC “to understand how deeply supportive the people of Utah are, and how capable they are.”

Also on the agenda is showing how much Utah has changed since 2002, he said, citing as examples the new Salt Lake City International Airport and the expansion of the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium, set to once again be the site of the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies.

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What he called the “transformation” of Utah over the past two decades will also be on display during a walking tour of downtown Salt Lake City, between venues including the Salt Palace, site of the media center, and the Delta Center, where figure skating competitions were held.

Salt Lake City had bid to host the 2030 or 2034, but stated a preference for the later date to avoid competing for sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles. France’s French Alps bid was selected as the IOC’s preferred host for the 2030 Winter Games and will receive a similar visit.

Dubi said next month’s trip to Salt Lake City will be the first since 2002 for many of the IOC participants.

“We can’t wait to be back,” he said. “It’s coming very soon. It’s very exciting, because for many of us, we have not returned from that time because, of course, the Olympics have from 2002 visited different countries, continents. They’ve all been exciting. But to be back in Salt Lake is a fabulous prospect.”

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