The U.S. Olympic Committee will move Salt Lake City forward as its potential bid city for a 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games or beyond, selecting the Utah capital and former Games host over a competing bid from Denver. The move allows an extraordinary amount of time for a potential bid as the International Olympic Committee has not yet opened up the bidding process for 2030 or future Games.
While USOC officials said they have not made a final determination on which Games they may bid on, they also wanted to select a city as the IOC prepares for a dialogue phase about potential bids for 2030 and beyond. USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said a variety of factors went into the decision to select Salt Lake City, including the support from the general public and the business community, as well as the fact that nearly all the venues from the 2002 Olympic Winter Games are still operational. Denver’s bid called for sharing venues with other states or regions—including Utah—as the area does not have a sliding track and regulation ski jump, among other challenges. “It was a variety of criteria,” Hirshland said of the decision, “but they have some very unique advantages.”
The Salt Lake City bid calls for events to take place across the city as well as in Park City, where most of the alpine, Nordic and sliding events were staged in 2002.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski described the selection as “humbling” and “affirming.” Biskupski, who attended the recent U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly in Colorado Springs and lobbied heavily for the city’s proposal, has served as co-chairwoman of the Salt Lake Olympic Executive Committee. “We are truly humbled to be the choice to represent the United States in a bid for a future Olympic Games,” she said. “This decision affirms Salt Lake City as the capital of winter sports in America, and the tremendous amount of work we have done to continue our Olympic legacy for future generations.”
The Salt Lake committee in February released a report that suggested it could organize the Games for about $1.4 billion, funded without taxpayer dollars. The report also included results of a survey that showed 89 percent of Utah residents were in favor of hosting, a percentage significantly higher than in many other cities considering a bid.
“We are honored and excited to be selected by the United States Olympic Committee as their next candidate city for a future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid,” said Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission.
“We know our work begins today and we look forward to partnering with the USOC to bring an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games back to Utah.”
In a statement following the decision, Rob Cohen, the chairman of the Denver and Colorado Winter Games Exploratory Committee, said the city’s bid “may not be the right time for such a model.”
“It is disappointing that one of the world’s great winter sports destinations will not have the opportunity to partner with the USOC on a future bid, especially given that more than 60 percent of Colorado voters favor us hosting the Winter Games,” he said. “Yet I believe that our community is better for having gone through this process as we continue to look forward and pursue opportunities to showcase our great city and state on the world stage. I’d like to personally congratulate Salt Lake City on its selection. We fully support the United States’ pursuit of a future Winter Games, as this is now America’s bid.”