Salt Lake City named preferred host for 2034 Winter Olympics

Nov 29, 2023, 9:50 AM | Updated: 6:02 pm

FILE: The Olympic Rings sit on display outside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Headquarte...

FILE: The Olympic Rings sit on display outside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Headquarters on January 11, 2020 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s bid to host another Winter Olympics cleared a massive hurdle on Wednesday and was named the preferred host for the 2034 Games. The bid now moves forward for final talks with the International Olympic Committee in a step called targeted dialogue, with an official awarding of the Games expected in July — possibly on Pioneer Day.

Local and state leaders gathered at the Salt Lake City & County Building to watch the announcement — at the same spot where leaders learned about the IOC’s decision to award Salt Lake City the 2002 Games back in 1995.

“What this means is we’re just one step away from bringing the Winter Games back to Salt Lake City,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We’re prepared for this deep dive and I believe we can carry out another successful set of Games that unify our global community and do so with greater sustainability.”

The IOC also named Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur-Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France, as the preferred host of the 2030 Winter Games during Wednesday’s meeting in Paris.

Once a preferred host is selected for a specific time, no other cities are allowed to apply to host the same Games. The IOC gives preferred hosts a list of questions to answer about its bid, as it also reviews “every aspect of the project,” according to the organization.

Main reasons Utah’s bid was selected for 2034

  • One hundred percent use of existing world-class venues, “which are well maintained thanks to the 2002 Legacy Fund”
  • No significant capital investment required
  • Strong support from the public (80% in Utah, 74% nationwide), national government and state and city governments
  • Very compact masterplan, with all venues within 60 minutes of the main Olympic Village in SLC
  • Excellent experience organizing and hosting major international events in most Olympic winter sports

The IOC added Utah provides an opportunity to “secure a traditional winter sports and climate-reliable destination well in advance of the Games.”

“The Commission members were deeply impressed by all the projects’ technical excellence, passion for Olympic winter sport and commitment to the sustainability principles of Olympic Agenda 2020+5,” said Karl Stoss, IOC member and chair of the Future Host Commission for the Winter Olympics. “What really stood out about the French Alps and Salt Lake City-Utah projects was their vision for the athlete experience, their alignment with regional and national socio-economic development plans, and their very strong support from the public and from all levels of government.”

The Utah Committee for the Games in Salt Lake City made its final pitch to the Future Host Commission last week.

“The decision of the IOC to invite Salt Lake City-Utah into targeted dialogue as the preferred host for 2034 is a credit to our communities working together to create a welcoming region for sport across our state,” said Frazer Bullock, president & CEO of Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games. “For more than a decade, our state and community leaders have united towards this goal. The IOC has recognized our high level of preparedness, with all venues in place and active, as well as overwhelming support from our political and business leaders.”

What happens next as Salt Lake City advances to targeted dialogue?

“Once a city enters targeted dialogue — and, of course, this is new — I believe the odds of a Games award is extremely high,” Bullock told the Deseret News. Utah’s bid team has already completed mountains of paperwork required under targeted dialogue.

“Basically, we’re ready to submit that,” he said, adding that in addition to negotiating the host contract during targeted dialogue, the IOC “will validate our plans. They will help us refine our thinking in areas where that needs to be adjusted.”

Two other bids for the 2030 Games — Switzerland and Sweden — were not selected to advance to the targeted dialogue stage. The IOC did grant a Switzerland bid, which is not currently tied to any specific year, special status by inviting into “privileged dialogue” for the 2038 Games.

“The Commission felt strongly that the other interested parties would benefit from more time to optimize the athlete experience of their future Games and to continue to build on their burgeoning foundations of public and political support,” Stoss said. “Switzerland 203x has great potential, with its project aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and the principles of sustainability, cost reduction, environmental protection and legacy.”

Salt Lake City is bidding to host in either 2030 or 2034, with a preference for the later date to avoid competing for domestic sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games being held in Los Angeles.

The Future Host Commission will now set a timeline for the targeted dialogues with France and Utah and will report to the IOC’s executive board on the outcome of these discussions. The IOC plans to award both Games during its next session, which runs July 23-24.

A sign outside the Salt Lake City-County Building as the International Olympic Committee announced Utah (Alex Cabrero, KSL TV)

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Salt Lake City named preferred host for 2034 Winter Olympics