Utah, Salt Lake City Officials Announce Readiness To Make '26 Winter Olympic Bid
As USOC leaders “ponder when next to pursue a Winter Games,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert yesterday “formalized the state’s interest in returning to the Olympic spotlight,” according to Mike Gorrell of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. Herbert said that he and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker “wholeheartedly endorsed an ad hoc Olympic Exploratory Committee’s recommendation that Utah should inform the USOC it is not only ‘ready, willing and capable’ to stage the Games again, but also ‘the best choice.’” A USOC subcommittee is “evaluating its best prospects for bringing an Olympics back to U.S. soil for the first time” since ‘02. It could opt to go for just the '24 Summer Games, or for the '26 Winter Games first, or to bid for both -- a decision that former '02 Salt Lake Games Organizing Committee COO Fraser Bullock "said is likely to be made sometime early next year.” Herbert said that about 40% of the 216-member U.S. winter team “trains or lives” in the Salt Lake City area already, “predicting another Games would expand that relationship and attract more athletes from other countries to train at Utah’s Olympic legacy venues.” Any future Salt Lake City bid “would be privately financed.” The exploratory committee “estimated bidding to become the U.S. candidate city would cost about $1 million, while the international competition would cost closer to $25 million.” The IOC will award the ’26 Olympics in ’19, “three years after the bidding process begins with the USOC” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 12/4). Herbert and Becker said that Utah and Salt Lake City are “well-positioned financially and otherwise.” Officials said that existing venues and infrastructure “would need minimal updates, and the transportation system and hotel lodging has been expanded since Salt Lake City successfully hosted" the '02 Games. Bullock said that he “doesn't perceive any IOC backlash as a result of the bid scandal” from the '02 Games. Herbert said, “We’ll bid on the up and up. We don’t have to do anything squirrelly” (DESERET NEWS, 12/4).
PLAYING IT COOL: The AP’s Paul Foy reported Nevada is “biding its time on a 2026 bid.” Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said of Utah potentially entering a bid for '26, “Good for Salt Lake. We commend any competition to host the next Winter Olympic Games in North America.” Foy noted the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition is “pursuing other international winter sporting events as a prelude to the Winter Games, and will hold the 2014 Continental Cup of Curling in Las Vegas.” USOC Chief Commercial Officer Patrick Sandusky said that the organization “had no comment” yesterday “on the viability of Salt Lake or any other candidates” (AP, 12/3).