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Salt Lake City meets with International Olympic Committee in pursuit of future bid for Games

Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games
Rick Bowmer/AP
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games met Monday with the International Olympic Committee to discuss Utah’s bid for another winter Games. That occurred just as the White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games.

Discussion about Salt Lake City’s next bid to host an Olympic Games forged ahead this week with a two and a half hour virtual meeting of the International Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake City committee.

Fraser Bullock, President and CEO of Utah’s committee, said the meeting was part of Utah’s process toward making a formal bid, but didn’t address whether any bid might aim for the 2030 or 2034 Games. That’s a national decision and Salt Lake City wants to be ready for either scenario.

The meeting between Salt Lake City and the IOC wrapped up shortly before the White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 games due to alleged human rights abuses in China. With a diplomatic boycott, U.S. athletes will still compete if they choose, but no government officials will attend.

Bullock said the boycott won’t affect the local committee’s plans to travel to Beijing and learn from those winter Games.

"Our focus is not on any diplomatic boycott or any of those political dynamics. Catherine and I and Darren Hughes will be going to Beijing, because our focus is behind the scenes understanding what they're doing in terms of hosting games, new ideas that we can bring into our games and talking with people about our future hosting opportunity."

Bullock and committee chair Catherine Raney Norman said the meeting was an introductory but productive dialogue and a chance to let the IOC know where Utah’s planning process is right now.

"One of the key aspects for me that I took away, is they are very much so looking for collaboration and partnerships, to try to help utilize sport as a way to better our world and better our communities. I'm looking forward to going to Beijing and seeing what they're doing, engaging further with the different IOC members and learning about what we can do - we can't just do what we did in '02. Our city has changed. Our state has changed."

The dialogue is a new and different - and more collaborative - way of progressing toward a formal bid than what occurred in the past.

Bullock said the IOC’s message to SLC was to focus on its vision and answer the questions ‘what are you trying to accomplish?’ and ‘why do you want to host these Games?’

Raney Norman highlighted that Utah’s strengths in a future bid include its snow and ice as well as the number of existing facilities within an hour’s drive of the Olympic village – as well as widespread community, government and business support for hosting here.

Utah has a $76 million endowment from 2002 Games that has kept facilities up to date, though some refurbishment is still needed.

The sorts of updates required to get Utah ready for a future Games include upgrading existing venues to accommodate new sport disciplines such as slopestyle.

The meeting was to have occurred in person in Switzerland, but was moved online due to concerns over the omicron variant of COVID-19.