Utah, international leaders optimistic about 2034 Olympic bid
Salt Lake City is now the International Olympic Committee’s “preferred host” for the 2034 Winter Games.
Utah is beginning exclusive talks with the International Olympic Committee about a 2034 Winter Olympic Games, the final step before the IOC awards the official host in July 2024.
Salt Lake City was the only candidate the IOC formally recognized for 2034.
The French Alps is now the preferred host for 2030. Karl Stoss, who chairs the Future Host Commission for the Winter Olympic Games, made the announcement Nov. 29 in Paris.
“What really stood out about the French Alps and Salt Lake City, Utah, projects were the vision for the athletes’ experience, their alignment with regional and national socioeconomic development plans, and very strong support from the public and from the levels of government,” Stoss said.
France and Utah will now enter into what’s called “targeted dialogue.” Normally, the potential hosts would use this stage to develop a business plan and budget and secure the guarantees from the government and venues.
But Tom Kelly, spokesperson for the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games in Salt Lake City, says Utah has already done most of that work.
“So in many ways, we're ahead of the game. So I think that we'll use this next time to just kind of look at those things. Again, make sure the checklist is complete, polish up things, but also start to talk maybe with a little bit of innovation as to what things we might be able to bring to the Olympic and Paralympic movements in 2034.”
The committee says it has unanimous support from local, state and federal governments, and Kelly says public opinion polls show more than 80% of Utahns support another Games.
According to a 2022 report prepared by Mountain Mediation Center, residents in Park City hope another Winter Games would strengthen the area’s Olympic legacy and be a chance to model sustainability.
Utah will be able to reuse venues featured in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
“The other thing is that all of our venues are within a one hour's drive from the Athletes Village, which will again be at the University of Utah,” Kelly said. “That's something that very few Olympics seem to have these days.”
Utah’s bid committee hasn’t released its full venue plan yet, something it will work on during targeted dialogue with the IOC. Plus, there could be new events to accommodate in 2034 including ski mountaineering and dual moguls.
On the French side of things, the Olympic Village would be in Nice, which would host indoor events like skating. Outdoor events would take place in various mountain towns to the north.
Utah’s bid committee has said it is prepared to host in 2030 if necessary, but Kelly doesn’t think that will happen.
“[France has] a strong plan, a strong program, and I'm confident that they'll be accepted for 2030,” he said.
Utah’s committee has said it would prefer to host in 2034 because the 2028 Summer Games will be in Los Angeles, and it will be easier to secure sponsorships if there’s some breathing room between Games.
The IOC is expected to make its final announcement in July, on the eve of the Summer Games. It will award the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games simultaneously.
“The French Alps and Salt Lake City have to do their homework,” Stoss said. “If the homework is done, the bid will come to the IOC session, and there will be a final decision.”
Switzerland entered a bid for either 2030, 2034 or 2038. Stoss says the IOC will begin talking with Switzerland about 2038.
Sweden also has an active bid, but Stoss said Sweden didn’t have full business and government support. This fall, Sapporo, Japan, delayed its 2030 bid to a future year in the wake of a corruption scandal.
Back in Salt Lake City, bid committee members, elected officials and Olympians gathered to celebrate outside city hall Nov. 29.
“It really lights my fire within, and I'm so thankful to all of you that worked so hard for 2002 and now for 2034,” mogul skier Shannon Bahrke said. “The Salt Lake City Olympic spirit is bright!”
There will be another celebration Friday at the plaza outside Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah, where local leaders will re-light the Olympic Cauldron. Festivities begin at 5:45 p.m.