There is "talk in Salt Lake City, and even some in Denver," of a bid for the '26 Games, which "take place two years before the Summer Olympics return" to L.A., according to Eddie Pells of the AP. The same country "hosting back-to-back Olympics hasn't happened since before World War II." Sources said that preliminary talks have "taken place about what it would take" to bring the Winter Games back to the U.S. for the first time since Salt Lake City hosted in '02. However, sources said that the USOC "wants to stay focused" on the '28 Games for the time being. IOC President Thomas Bach has "led a streamlining of the bid process" for the '26 Games, in part to "avoid an unwanted repeat" of the '22 bidding, when the only bidders were from China and Kazakhstan. U.S. Biathlon President Max Cobb said, "The sooner the Winter Olympics can come back to the U.S., the better. We've got a fantastic set of venues in Utah that are still in use and more or less at world-class standard." Pells notes Park City and Salt Lake City have "hosted about 75 World Cup and world-championship events in winter sports" since the '02 Games. Meanwhile, Denver "would have a steeper hill to climb." Although it is "bigger than Salt Lake City, the mountains are farther away, and more infrastructure would be needed." Denver also "stands as the only city to once be awarded the Olympics" -- the '76 Winter Games -- "only to turn them back after public opinion turned against hosting." One of the few declared candidates for the '26 Games -- Innsbruck, Austria, which has hosted two previous Winter Olympics -- has a "referendum scheduled for Oct. 15 that has the potential to scuttle the bid." Calgary and Sion, Switzerland, have also "shown interest in hosting" (AP, 9/12).
THUMBS UP: The AP's Pells reports L.A. yesterday "received its formal go-ahead" to host the '28 Games, "getting a thumbs-up" from the IOC's evaluation commission. The IOC will officially award the '24 Games to Paris and the '28 Games to L.A. tomorrow (AP, 9/12). L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the city will "benefit from having longer to get ready" for the '28 Games. REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann noted past Olympic hosts had "seven years to prepare from when they were awarded the Games to their staging," compared to L.A.’s 11. Garcetti said, "It gives us the opportunity to think about every resident in Los Angeles" (REUTERS, 9/11).