Utah’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Games is headed to a final vote by the International Olympic Committee in July.

The IOC Executive Board advanced the bid Wednesday after reviewing the findings from an April visit to Utah by the Switzerland-based organization’s Future Host Commission as part of the new, less formal process for selecting Olympic hosts.

“Salt Lake City would be ready to start the Olympic Winter Games tomorrow. But they have still time, to 2034,” Austrian IOC member Karl Stoss, the chairman of the Future Host Commission, told the Deseret News during a virtual news conference after the closed-door meeting.

The Salt Lake City-Utah bid is “a really great project, with a very, very strong engagement from the private side. That means 100% privately funded revenues,” Stoss said. “It is guaranteed and it is very clear for us that this one will be a very comprehensive and balanced budget. From our side, nothing is outstanding.”

That’s not the case with France’s French Alps bid to host the 2030 Winter Games, which still has to put together financial guarantees from the French government as well as regional authorities amid a just-called national election. A final vote by the IOC on the French bid is contingent on those deals being put in place, Stoss said.

Still, he was complimentary of both bids, saying that France “would leverage its recent history of hosting world championships and world cups, while Salt Lake City-Utah 2034 would extend the transformative benefits of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2002 to a new generation.”

Stoss said they “are two very exciting projects, and two very different projects, which clearly demonstrate that there is no one-size-fits-all model to host Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Neither bid has any competition after being named the IOC’s preferred hosts late last year.

But leaders of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that’s behind the bid said they’re not taking anything for granted.

“We’re assuming we’re in a very intense, focused effort to win the right to host the Games,” Fraser Bullock, the bid committee’s president and CEO, told reporters wearing a “SLC-UT 2034″ baseball cap. He said the bid is busy getting ready to make a private virtual presentation to IOC members on June 26, and another in person just before the July vote.

That’s “to make sure that we really dial it in and are incredibly successful in portraying the great value of Utah to the IOC membership because for many of them, this will be the first time they hear of our bid,” Bullock said. Asked about the organizational changes coming once Utah gets the Games, he said, “we don’t spend a lot of time on that. Let’s win the bid first.”

Wednesday’s action by IOC leaders “is a monumental step forward for us,” Bullock said, adding, “We are thrilled. We are extremely grateful for the confidence that they have in us to be able to welcome the world to Utah.”

The bid committee’s only full-time employee, bid lead Darren Hughes, said he felt both “elated and relieved.”

Bullock ruled out Utah being asked to step in four years earlier should the French bid fail to come up with the required financial guarantees, saying there’ve been “zero discussions” about the possibility. “We are 100% all in on 2034,” he said and have confidence in France.

The last hurdle for another Olympics coming to Utah is the ratification vote by the full IOC membership that’s already been set for July 24, Utah’s Pioneer Day, in Paris ahead of the the start of the 2024 Summer Games there.

Gov. Spencer Cox, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and other Utah leaders are scheduled to be in Paris for the vote, and the governor would sign the contract to host immediately afterwards on behalf of the state, guaranteeing to cover the cost if the planned private funding falls short.

On Monday, the bid committee released a $2.83 billion budget for 2034 that does not include any state or local tax dollars, instead relying largely on the sale of sponsorships, broadcast rights and tickets, just as was done for the state’s last Olympics, in 2002.

2030/2034 Olympic Winter Games bid timeline
Poll shows Utahns strongly support hosting the 2034 Winter Games. Here are the latest numbers.

Utah has been bidding more than a decade for another Winter Games. A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows 79% of the state’s residents back hosting in 2034. The bid had been to host in either 2030 or 2034, with a preference for the later date to avoid competing for sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

What are the plans for a 2034 Winter Games in Utah?

The answers to the IOC’s preferred host questionnaire submitted by Cox and other bid backers spell out the plans for hosting another Olympics in 2034, including the proposed dates: Friday, Feb. 10, through Sunday, Feb. 26, for the Olympics; and Friday, March 10, through Sunday, March 19, for the Paralympics for athletes with disabilities. There’s an acknowledgement the dates could be moved up a week if that’s “in the collective best interests of Games stakeholders.”

The 78-page document, released Monday by the bid committee, also describes the vision for the Games as an effort to elevate communities, sports and the event experience. The Olympics, it says, “have the opportunity to inspire, lift and change the souls of all of us. We can be more universal, more inclusive, and more welcoming to our communities and to those around the world. Everyone Belongs.”

And even though there’s already discussions underway about what transportation and other projects — possibly even air taxis — could be spurred by an upcoming Games, the bid committee states that nothing new is needed to host, including any “new transport or urban infrastructure.”

The bid reuses all of the venues put in place for 2002, except for the Weber County Ice Sheet in Ogden, which would be replaced by a temporary curling rink at the Salt Palace. Another temporary venue would be built in downtown Salt Lake City for a sport added in recent years, big air skiing and snowboarding, and the first-ever housing for the families of athletes is planned at the University of Utah, where the athlete village would once again be located.

Here’s how much a 2034 Winter Games in Utah would cost

Sustainability is a key focus for the IOC, the bid’s list of “priority actions to achieve a sustainable Games,” includes protecting the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and the Salt Lake valley’s air quality. Hosting in 2034, the document states, “will provide support for current and future leaders to accelerate ambition on climate action.”

The IOC also emphasizes diversity, equity and inclusion and Utah bidders pledged to “promote diverse participation and leadership in all aspects of the Games, from athletes and officials to volunteers and spectators. The Games will be fully accessible for those with impairments, championing people from diverse backgrounds and fostering a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all” and “empower women and marginalized communities through skills development, job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

The organizing committee for a 2034 Games would be an independent, private, nonprofit Utah corporation governed by a board of directors and an executive committee that would include athlete, sport organization, IOC, International Paralympic Committee, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, state and local representatives as well as business and “diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders.”

The price tag for staging another Olympics is $2.83 billion, according to the “core budget” also released by the bid committee on Monday, although anticipated revenues add up to nearly $4 billion with the inclusion of the USOPC’s expected share of domestic sponsorships and licensing revenues. The budget is roughly the same as was spent in 2002, when organizers did not use tax dollars to stage the Games and left behind a surplus.

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