‘We will be ready’ to host 2030 Winter Games, French official tells Utah’s Olympic bidders

Jan 13, 2024, 4:21 PM

Alf Engen Ski Museum news conference in Park City on Thursday...

Fraser Bullock, CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region President Renaud Muselier, and Colin Hilton, CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, at a press conference at the Alf Engen Ski Museum in Park City on Thursday (Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

(Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The leader of one of the French Alps regions poised to stage the 2030 Winter Games has no doubt his country can pull it off, dismissing the idea that Salt Lake City, the preferred host for 2034, could be asked to step up sooner.

“We will be ready. I don’t care about that,” a smiling Renaud Muselier, president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, told the Deseret News after a tour of the Utah Olympic Park’s ski jumps and runs just outside Park City on Thursday.

Muselier, in Utah as part of a French trade delegation, made it clear he’s certain France’s late entry into the race for the 2030 Olympics will get through the latest phase of the International Olympic Committee’s new bid process that requires detailed plans.

“All the things cannot be perfect because we go very fast. But we will be ready,” he said.

Young athletes excited, looking forward to 2034 Olympics

Salt Lake City, site of the 2002 Winter Games, has been bidding to host again for more than a decade and has prepared to host in either 2030 or 2034. But the preference is for the later date, to avoid competing for sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Last month, the IOC chose the French Alps over bids from Switzerland and Sweden for 2030, and Salt Lake City for 2034 to enter what’s known as targeted dialogue for those Games.

Between now and the final vote set for July, just before the start of the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, both the French and U.S. bids are expected to submit a massive amount of paperwork spelling out specifics for those Games along with negotiating contracts.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games has already completed nearly everything needed by the IOC. Utah’s bid has been viewed as a backup for 2030, especially now with France still putting together its plans after jumping into the race last summer.

‘Go team’

The IOC has tried to tamp down that talk, telling reporters late last year that the two bids “are mutually exclusive. We have one targeted dialogue, French Alps 2030; one targeted dialogue Salt Lake City 2034.”

That same IOC official, Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi, also said the Switzerland-based organization is “extremely confident with this process thanks to the quality of the submissions that have been made.”

Muselier noted Salt Lake City “will be ready in 2030 … but they are so close to Los Angeles, it’s not good for the USA.” So, he explained, “to the USA, the French, we are saying, ‘That’s OK. Go team.”

He pointed out France has hosted three previous Winter Games, but 2030 would be the first with events held in the southern Alps.

“We have snow, we have ski resorts, we have skiers. We know how to do (it), in fact,” Muselier said. “We know how to organize international competitions in the south of France.”

‘Two preferred hosts’

France’s bid divides Olympic events between the northern and southern Alps, with events held in parts of the glamorous French Riviera that’s known for sunny beaches and summertime activities.

“Everybody knows the Riviera. Everybody knows that. But not everybody knows that we are an Alps region,” with snow and a population who skis, Muselier said of the Sud (southern) region he was elected to represent.

Being able to showcase its wintertime side for the first time at the Olympic level is the key reason behind the bid, he said, noting that before Utah held the 2002 Games, “we always think of your national parks. We don’t think of your mountains or snow.”

Hosting the Olympics brought international attention to the Wasatch Front’s mountains and ski resorts, Muselier said, adding he’s counting on the 2030 Winter Games to do the same for the South of France.

Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, called Muslier’s visit “a first, where we have two preferred hosts for future Winter Games collaborating together in partnership.”

‘The legacy’

Bullock said Utah bidders and their French counterparts “are both going to host Winter Games. We can learn from each other. We can support each other. And we started this great friendship today.”

Colin Hilton, president and CEO of the nonprofit Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation that owns and operates the Utah Olympic Park and other state-built 2002 facilities, said there was a lot of discussion about how hosting can have a lasting impact.

What the French delegation saw included a noisy group of young children participating in an after-school ski program as well as elite athletes from Ukraine and Kazakhstan teams training on the aerial hills, Hilton said.

Olympis press conference

Fraser Bullock, CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region President Renaud Muselier, Colin Hilton, CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, and Malena Stevens pose for a photo after a press conference at the Alf Engen Ski Museum in Park City on Thursday. Representatives from the Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in France, which was named the preferred host for the 2030 Olympics, were welcomed for a tour of the Utah Olympic Park as an opportunity to exchange ideas and dialogue on ongoing Olympic and Paralympic efforts. (Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

That represents, he said, “all of efforts that we’re doing every day, not just having hosted a great Games in ’02, but the legacy of continuing to use these. And, of course, having these facilities ready for a future Games.”

Muselier talked with Utah Gov. Spencer Cox Friday. The pair met last year in Paris, when Cox led a Utah trade mission to France and the U.K. The French leader said he told Cox then he hoped to come to the state soon to hear firsthand from Utah’s Olympic experts.

Cox, a member of the bid team, said in a statement he “appreciated following up with him on areas of mutual interest. Like Utah, Region Sud has a major tourism economy, so exchanging best practices will help us as we prepare for the 2034 Winter Games.”

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‘We will be ready’ to host 2030 Winter Games, French official tells Utah’s Olympic bidders