IOC lines up France to host 2030 Winter Olympics and Salt Lake City for 2034 edition
PARIS (AP) — Salt Lake City being preferred as a shoo-in to host the 2034 Winter Olympics was expected. The surprise was the IOC favoring the French Alps bid for the 2030 edition on Wednesday.
Aiming to finalize back-to-back Winter Games hosts next year, the International Olympic Committee executive board has decided to enter exclusive talks with Olympic officials in France and the United States for Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake was alone in the 2034 race to bring the games back to Utah which hosted the 2002 Winter Games.
A French bid uniting the snowy Alps region and the French Riviera resort Nice was competing with Sweden and Switzerland for the IOC’s support.
The IOC also has now pointed the Swiss bid toward the 2038 Olympics with “privileged dialogue” status.
The IOC last month aimed to make a double award picking the 2030 and 2034 hosts together in July when about 100 members meet in Paris on the eve of the Summer Games.
That plan could now change to avoid a conflict for IOC members to have to vote for a French bid in its capital city.
France’s partial win Wednesday is a full victory for its national Olympic committee leader David Lappartient, the president of cycling’s governing body.
Lappartient worked to build close ties with IOC president Thomas Bach even before last year when he became one of the about 100 IOC members.
The modern way of picking Olympic hosts leaves IOC members to rubber stamp a single option presented by the executive board chaired by Bach.
The 2030 Winter Games is barely six years away, already making it the latest Olympic hosting decision taken in recent decades. A decision next July would be just over 5½ years before the scheduled opening ceremony.
Longtime 2030 favorite Sapporo faded then was formally withdrawn last month as Japan’s feeling for the Olympics soured amid investigations of bribery linked to preparing the Summer Games in Tokyo held in 2021.
Vancouver, the 2010 Winter Games host, also dropped out and Salt Lake City’s focus switched to 2034. That was to avoid a clash for the United States hosting back-to-back Olympics after the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games.
With the IOC seeming to have few options in January, Swedish Olympic officials were approached about making a ninth bid for the Winter Games. The most recent loss was with Stockholm in 2019 when IOC members gave victory in the 2026 hosting contest to Italy’s Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo.
That Stockholm bid was revived but an apparent caution in moving forward quickly left the door open for bids from France and Switzerland closer to the IOC’s home in Lausanne.
The IOC has declining options for Winter Games hosts because of climate change.
The Olympic body estimates only 15 countries on three continents can meet the criteria of having at least 80% of existing venues for snow sports and a “climate-reliable” outlook to stage events in future decades.
A longer-term IOC plan is a rotation policy for a small pool of regular Winter Games hosts.