The Utah Olympic Oval speedskating complex in Kearns is pictured on Oct. 31, 2022. Is there another new possible entry to rival Salt Lake City’s bid for a future Winter Olympic Games?
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Three countries are putting together a “European super bid” for the 2030 Winter Games.
France, Switzerland and Italy are pitching the massive Mont Blanc region that includes 1924 Winter Games host Chamonix, France, and two cities that previously competed against Salt Lake City for an Olympics: Aosta, Italy, for 1998, and Sion, Switzerland, for 2002.
The bid, first reported this week by a French-language Swiss newspaper, would be a late entry in the race to host the 2030 Winter Games between Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada.
Just weeks ago, the International Olympic Committee upended the selection of a 2030 host. Instead of advancing a city — or cities — to contract negotiations, IOC leaders announced there wouldn’t be a final decision made in 2023 after all.
No new date has been set for the pick to be made. The IOC said the postponement was needed to look at ways to counter the impact of climate change on the Winter Games, possibly by establishing a rotating group of permanent hosts.
The Switzerland-based IOC also made it clear the competition for 2030 was open to additional contenders under the new, less formal bid process being used for the first time to select a Winter Games host.
Salt Lake City is bidding for both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games, which now may be awarded together, but the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee prefers the later date to avoid any financial fallout from Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Summer Games.
Still, Utah bidders have stressed their readiness to step in if the IOC needs a host sooner.
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, said he wasn’t surprised there could be new competition in the race.
“In my experience, bids are always fluid,” Bullock said, “We applaud anybody that tries to assemble a bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games because we know how difficult it is. It’s challenging to get political support, public support, a technical bid prepared.”
He said that means “we are not surprised by changes of bidders that may come and go.”
Sapporo recently paused its 2030 bid to focus on building support amid an Olympic bribery scandal involving organizers of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. Vancouver’s bid, meanwhile, is stalled after British Columbia officials said they wouldn’t provide backing.
The new bid from Europe faces obstacles, too.
Swiss bidders lost the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City and later saw other attempts to host rejected by voters over costs. Italy is already holding the 2026 Winter Games, in Milan and Cortina, and Chamonix officials in France apparently aren’t interested.
Chamonix-Mont Blanc Mayor Eric Fournier issued a statement a day after Le Temps, a Swiss newspaper, reported a group of about 15 people were working on a cross-border candidacy, saying a joint Olympic bid “is not on the agenda.”
Fournier said the bid “comes from a private initiative and not from the political authorities of the Espace Mont Blanc, who are currently working actively on the roadmap” that is focused on “adapting our tourist economy to climate change,” FrancsJeux.com reported.
The Le Temps article said the group supporting a Mont-Blanc bid was “ready to delay its ambitions by four or even eight years.”
Another European country, Germany, expressed interest last fall in possibly bidding for the 2034 Winter Games.