Stephen Wade by Associated Press Sportswriter
Fraser Bullock, who leads Salt Lake City’s bid to return the Winter Olympics to Utah, is very confident of the success.
“I am confident that we will host future games (games). It is a question of when,” he said in a local television interview last week.
But will it be the first opening on the IOC calendar in 2030? Or maybe the International Olympic Committee double award and name the host of 2034? When it had two strong candidates for the Summer Games 4 years ago, the IOC selected Paris for the 2024 Olympics and Los Angeles for 2028.
IoC is saying no. An announcement is expected early next year, with media reports in Salt Lake City suggesting a decision in May 2023.
“I obviously have my fingers crossed for 2030, but we will be ready whenever we are asked to host them,” Bullock told Deseret News in Utah.
The Associated Press requested an interview with Bullock but was told he was speaking only to local media. Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Games, when Bullock was No. 2 for Mitt Romney.
Under its revised but opaque bidding process, the IOC has four potential candidates. Three have previously held the Winter Olympics: Sapporo (1972), Salt Lake City (2002), and Vancouver (2010). There is also interest from Barcelona, which hosted the 1992 Summer Games and could propose a bid with regions in the Pyrenees.
An IOC “technical team” was inspecting locations in Salt Lake City last week, and is in Vancouver this week. Meanwhile, a similar trip to Spain is reported to have been delayed.
Sapporo isn’t known for a technical tour, but a Japanese bid should be one of the favorites after officially spending $13.6 billion to organize the one-year-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. At least 60% was public funding and, perhaps more, than government audit reports showing Olympic costs were higher.
A study by the University of Oxford said that Tokyo was the most expensive Olympics on record.
Sapporo is holding an “All Japan” conference next week, led by former Prime Minister Taro Aso, to promote the bid and demonstrate support for the government and Japanese business.
Salt Lake City puts the cost of the Games at $2.2 billion, and Sapporo has a similar figure—$2.4 billion to $2.6 billion. However, Olympic expenditures generally outweigh estimates, and it is impossible to accurately estimate costs a decade from now.
Winter sports have become a tough sell for the IOC. The options for 2022 fell to Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing after half a dozen European candidates were thrown out after a failed public referendum, or fear of costs.
Neither Sapporo nor Salt Lake City will hold a referendum. Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto has said that surveys of 10,000 people – online, on the street and by post – show support between 52% and 65%, with Akimoto giving no details of the survey’s methodology or reliability.
Vancouver council last month refused to hold a referendum on the ballot for the October municipal election. Vancouver’s proposal is being called the first “indigenous-led” bid for the Olympics, with the Canadian First Nations planning a feasibility study.
Mark Conrad, who teaches sports law and ethics at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, told the Associated Press that a joint award seemed possible. He is not involved in the process and sees an outsider.
“The Salt Lake City facilities have been built and used since 2002, and are in good condition,” Conrad said, noting also the strong public support for the bid. “But Japan owes a lot to the IOC and I believe many of the facilities may or may be shared through Nagano.”
Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and paid off debt from those games several years earlier.
With the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028, it would be unusual for the IOC to remain in the United States for the 2030 Winter Games. However, if the sponsorship is strong, this could change course. The IOC also generates the majority of its broadcast revenue from North America.
IOC President Thomas Bach, who steps down in 2025, may also choose to leave the 2034 award for his successor.
The 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympics are the only sports open on the immediate Olympic calendar. Paris, Los Angeles and Brisbane, Australia, are gearing up for the next three Summer Olympics.
Italy’s Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo will host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The IOC has tried to streamline its bidding process, partly due to the bribery scandals linked to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Tokyo in 2019 that forced the resignation of IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda.
A bribery scandal also spoiled Salt Lake City’s selection.
Host-city selection has largely been left out of the hands of rank-and-file IOC members, who will be asked to rubber-stamp on the recommendation of the IOC’s executive board.
The IOC technical team in Salt Lake City was not made available to the media, and the names of the members were not disclosed. Members of the technical team were not considered IOC members. The IOC stated that members who are on the Future Host Commission were not “on site”.
“The IOC meets regularly, in person or virtually, with interested parties and potential hosts of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Winter Games,” the IOC said in a statement. “The IOC respects the confidentiality of all these discussions.”