Even though questions remain about a 2030 Winter Games in the French Alps, including whether some events will be held in another country, France’s bid team seemed assured after a visit by the same International Olympic Committee delegation that came to Utah last month.

Both Salt Lake City and the French Alps already have been named preferred hosts by the IOC Executive Board — Utah, for the 2034 Winter Games, and France, for 2030. The IOC leaders are now awaiting a report based on the site visits by the organization’s Future Host Commission before recommending either bid advance to a final vote by the full IOC membership in July.

“We are confident that it will be confirmed,” French IOC member and president of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee, David Lappartient, told reporters, according to a translation of his remarks at a news conference last week held to mark the end of the five-day tour of the country’s proposed Winter Games venues.

‘We will be ready’ to host 2030 Winter Games, French official tells Utah’s Olympic bidders

Unlike Utah, which has been pursuing another Olympics for more than a decade and was deemed a “role model” for future hosts by the IOC delegation because venues from the 2002 Winter Games are still in place and all within an hour of athlete housing at the University of Utah, France didn’t even get into the race until less than a year ago.

That’s led to speculation France’s bid could falter and force the IOC to look for a new 2030 location, possibly even turning to Salt Lake City four year earlier than anticipated. Switzerland, which has a new, privileged status as the only bidder for now for the 2038 Winter Games, is also seen as an alternative.

France’s proposed 2030 Winter Games venues are spread across several hundred miles, from ski resorts in the north to the beachfront city of Nice in the south. While the alpine and other venues in the north were described as needing little work to be ready for a 2030 Winter Games, new and temporary facilities will have to be built to hold ice events along the French Riviera.

Still to be decided is whether a temporary speedskating oval will be constructed in Nice or if the long track events would be held outside France, possibly in the Netherlands or in Italy, where a temporary track is being installed for the 2026 Winter Games in Milan-Cortina.

The competition for the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games

Lappartient, who said there should be an answer about the speedskating venue by early June, appeared more interested in emphasizing the competitiveness of the bid process since France decided to go after a Winter Olympics despite Paris hosting the 2024 Summer Games.

While it now seems like “we are winning because there’s no one competing against us,” Lappartient said the French Alps faced “six competitors on the starting line,” including Salt Lake City, which bid for both 2030 and 2034 with a preference for the later date to avoid competing for sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

The other 2030 contenders were Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; Switzerland and Sweden. While Sapporo and Vancouver were out of the running due to a lack of public support even before France’s late bid, Lappartient, an IOC member since 2022, said IOC leaders could have chosen Sweden, bidding for the ninth time; Switzerland, “a huge winter sports country;” or Salt Lake City.

2030/2034 Olympic Winter Games bid timeline
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“Today, we get the impression that it was easy,” he said of the decision to opt for France as the preferred host. “We are almost at the finish line now and I think all that we have shown this week makes us rather confident. But, of course, there are some obligatory pieces,” that are still needed, including government guarantees that the cost of hosting will be covered.

Still, the French Olympic official cautioned, “we must remain humble. We just want to make sure our bid is the best that it can be so there’s no possible reason for (the IOC) not to award us the Games.” Lappartient noted that he and other French members of the Switzerland-based IOC will not be able to participate in the final vote, set for July 24, celebrated as Pioneer Day in Utah.

Austrian IOC member Karl Stoss, the chairman of the Future Host Commission, was already talking about what would happen after the 2030 Winter Games are awarded to the French Alps, declaring, “immediately after the election we will come together and we will talk about the Olympic program,” including adding new sports to appeal to a younger demographic.

Saying some ideas have been discussed, Stoss suggested the new events would not be in alpine skiing but in Nordic and ice sports.

New interest in hosting the 2036 Summer Games

The Future Host Commission’s trip to see the French Alps bid comes as the IOC is seeing renewed competition to host the Olympics, with what IOC President Thomas Bach says are “double-digit” numbers of countries in the running for the 2036 Summer Games.

Utah’s bid for the 2034 Winter Games is on track after an IOC visit. What’s next?

“We have never been in such a favorable position. We have never seen such a high interest in hosting the Olympic Games,” Bach told the Agence France Presse news service during a recent interview from his offices at the IOC’s headquarters in Switzerland.

The list of potential host nations include Saudi Arabia, the sole candidate for soccer’s 2032 FIFA World Cup; Qatar, that lost the 2032 Summer Games to Brisbane, Australia; Indonesia, and India. Germany, Turkey, South Korea and Hungary are also looking at 2036, according to GamesBids.com.

When AFP asked Bach about human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, he declined to discuss whether that would make them contested choices.

“We are now 12 years away from these Games, so it is way too early to comment on any of these interests,” the IOC leader said. He did, however, credit reforms made under his watch in the bid process that emphasize controlling costs by using existing facilities for the high level of interest.

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