Utah is now one vote away from hosting the 2034 Winter Games. Here’s what just happened

Jun 12, 2024, 11:46 AM | Updated: 7:22 pm

Utah’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Games is headed to a final vote by the International Olympic Committee in July.

The IOC Executive Board advanced the bid Wednesday after reviewing the findings from an April visit to Utah by the Switzerland-based organization’s Future Host Commission as part of the new, less formal process for selecting Olympic hosts.

Salt Lake City was named the IOC’s preferred host for 2034 late last year, and the same designation was given to France’s French Alps bid for 2030.

The decision leaves one final hurdle for another Olympics coming to Utah, a ratification vote by the full IOC membership that’s already been set for July 24, Utah’s Pioneer Day, in Paris ahead of the the start of the 2024 Summer Games there.

Gov. Spencer Cox, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and other Utah leaders are scheduled to be in Paris for the vote, and the governor would sign the contract to host immediately afterward on behalf of the state, guaranteeing to cover the cost if the planned private funding falls short.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that’s behind the bid just released a $2.83 billion budget for 2034 that does not include any state or local tax dollars, instead relying largely on the sale of sponsorships, broadcast rights and tickets, just as was done for the state’s last Olympics, in 2002.

Utah has been bidding more than a decade for another Winter Games. A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows 79% of the state’s residents back hosting in 2034. The bid had been to host in either 2030 or 2034, with a preference for the later date to avoid competing for sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

What are the plans for a 2034 Winter Games in Utah?

The answers to the IOC’s preferred host questionnaire submitted by Cox and other bid backers spell out the plans for hosting another Olympics in 2034, including the proposed dates: Friday, Feb. 10, through Sunday, Feb. 26, for the Olympics; and Friday, March 10, through Sunday, March 19, for the Paralympics for athletes with disabilities. There’s an acknowledgement the dates could be moved up a week if that’s “in the collective best interests of Games stakeholders.”

The 78-page document, released Monday by the bid committee, also describes the vision for the Games as an effort to elevate communities, sports and the event experience. The Olympics, it says, “have the opportunity to inspire, lift and change the souls of all of us. We can be more universal, more inclusive, and more welcoming to our communities and to those around the world. Everyone Belongs.”

And even though there’s already discussions underway about what transportation and other projects — possibly even air taxis — could be spurred by an upcoming Games, the bid committee states that nothing new is needed to host, including any “new transport or urban infrastructure.”

The bid reuses all of the venues put in place for 2002, except for the Weber County Ice Sheet in Ogden, which would be replaced by a temporary curling rink at the Salt Palace. Another temporary venue would be built in downtown Salt Lake City for a sport added in recent years, big air skiing and snowboarding, and the first-ever housing for the families of athletes is planned at the University of Utah, where the athlete village would once again be located.

Sustainability is a key focus for the IOC, the bid’s list of “priority actions to achieve a sustainable Games,” includes protecting the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and the Salt Lake valley’s air quality. Hosting in 2034, the document states, “will provide support for current and future leaders to accelerate ambition on climate action.”

The IOC also emphasizes diversity, equity and inclusion and Utah bidders pledged to “promote diverse participation and leadership in all aspects of the Games, from athletes and officials to volunteers and spectators. The Games will be fully accessible for those with impairments, championing people from diverse backgrounds and fostering a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all” and “empower women and marginalized communities through skills development, job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

The organizing committee for a 2034 Games would be an independent, private, nonprofit Utah corporation governed by a board of directors and an executive committee that would include athlete, sport organization, IOC, International Paralympic Committee, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, state and local representatives as well as business and “diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders.”

The price tag for staging another Olympics is $2.83 billion, according to the “core budget” also released by the bid committee on Monday, although anticipated revenues add up to nearly $4 billion with the inclusion of the USOPC’s expected share of domestic sponsorships and licensing revenues. The budget is roughly the same as was spent in 2002, when organizers did not use tax dollars to stage the Games and left behind a surplus.

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Utah is now one vote away from hosting the 2034 Winter Games. Here’s what just happened