With L.A. Olympics confirmed, U.S. cities look at Potential Winter Games bid

There is an outside shot the United States won’t have to wait for 11 years to sponsor its next Olympics.

It’s a longshot, but there is talk in Salt Lake City, and even a few in Denver, of a bid to the 2026 Winter Games, which take place two years prior to the Summer Olympics return to Los Angeles.

The identical state hosting back-to-back Olympics has not happened since before World War II, but as this round of bidding has indicated, rules are made to be altered.

Five individuals familiar with internal discussions in both towns told The Associated Press that preliminary talks have taken place about what it would take to bring the Winter Games back to the United States for the first time since Salt Lake hosted in 2002. Not one of the folks wanted their names used because the talks are preliminary, and since the U.S. Olympic Committee would like to remain focused on the Los Angeles bid for the 2028 Olympics.

“Salt Lake City would enjoy hosting the Games again,” said Fraser Bullock, an integral participant in Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics. “The focus at this time is on LA, as it needs to be.”

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee will award the 2024 Summer Games to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles.

Both were in the running for 2024. But realizing he had two top-tier candidates, IOC president Thomas Bach spearheaded a rules change to approve the awarding of the 2028 Games, also. It helped stop a potentially embarrassing bidding process for all those matches. At exactly the exact same time, Bach led a streamlining of the bidding process for the 2026 Winter Games, as a way to prevent an unwanted replica of their 2022 bidding when the sole bidders were from China and Kazakhstan.

“The earlier the Winter Olympics can return into the U.S., the better,” said Max Cobb, the president of U.S. Biathlon. “We have got a wonderful set of places in Utah which are still in use and more or less at world-class standard.”

The Salt Lake City Games were marred by a bidding scandal that led to many IOC members losing their positions for taking bribes.

However, with help of Mitt Romney and others, the Olympics were stored, while Salt Lake and Park City have stood as prime examples of the type of legacy that modern Olympics are supposed to leave in a region. There is an eight-lane interstate running in the Salt Lake airport, which was updated for the Olympics, to Park City, that’s the house of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Park City is the host of crucial U.S. training centers for freestyle skiing, speedskating and cross country ski.

All in all, the region has hosted about 75 World Cup and world-championship events in winter sports because the Olympic cauldron was extinguished over 15 years back.

Denver would have a steeper hill to climb. Even though it’s larger than Salt Lake City, the hills are further away, and much more infrastructure would be required.

“We would welcome an invitation to discuss, in depth, what it would take for Denver to become a Winter Olympic host city,” stated Matthew Payne, executive director of the Denver Sports Commission.

Denver also stands as the only city to be given the Olympics — the 1976 Winter Games — just to turn them back following public opinion turned against hosting the event.

The general public support piece is as critical as ever, particularly in the aftermath of numerous towns pulling out of the running for 2022 and 2024 due to poor response from taxpayers and failed referendums.

Among the few announced candidates for 2026 — Innsbruck, Austria, which has hosted two previous Winter Olympics — includes a referendum scheduled for Oct. 15 that has the potential to scuttle the bidding.

Calgary and Sion, Switzerland, have also shown interest in hosting. Salt Lake City and Denver are formally on the sideline, though after Wednesday, things could heat up. The 2026 Games are next on the docket — and the sole Olympics through 2028 still looking for a host.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail