The International Olympic Committee toured Park City and the Salt Lake area last week in anticipation of the possibility of future Winter Games, and officials involved in the bid seemed confident Utah will host the Olympics. of 2030 or 2034.
From Wednesday to Friday, an IOC technical team visited former Olympic sites along the Wasatch Front to survey facilities and provide feedback to the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games. Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Utah committee, called the visit a success and said the Games could be awarded next May.
During the technical visit, three IOC members met with the bid group and provided feedback on what it would take to host the Olympics, according to Tom Kelly, spokesperson for the Salt Lake City-Utah committee. for the Games. He said the local committee felt confident for the visit, as all the venues used during the 2002 Winter Olympics have been in constant use since then.
The site visit was the first to take place since the IOC adopted a less intense Candidature Process and was a functional trip compared to ceremonies in the past. The new streamlined process focuses on constant dialogue and collaboration. In the coming weeks, the IOC team is also expected to travel to several other locations being considered for the Winter Olympics, including Vancouver, Canada and possibly Spain.
On the first day, members of the technical team spent time in Salt Lake City. They visited Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were held in 2002, and the former University of Utah Athletes‘ Village.
The next day, the group was in the Park City area. Kelly said he visited Utah Olympic Park, where competitions in bobsledding, ski jumping and luge were held. Then they went to Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. The IOC team also stopped at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, where cross-country skiing events were held, and in Provo to visit the Peaks Ice Arena, which was built in 1998 as a hockey training site. on ice and figure skating for the 2002 Olympics.
It’s unlikely there will be any changes to the events held at Soldier Hollow, but the sports held at other venues may change, according to Kelly.
Utah Olympic Park is also developing and expanding West Peak and implementing a chairlift that could be used as an alternate venue for some events. Bullock said this is an important project not only for Winter Games efforts, but because of the legacy it will create by allowing children to train at the facilities.
“There’s a lot of flexibility because we have so much up there (in Park City) to offer,” Bullock said. “We have a lot of new events since 2002 that will need to find a home. What we’ve all seen is not just the beautiful resorts and the flexibility, but in each place the passion for the Olympics and Paralympics and the support of the people there and the legacy that they want to continue to build for Park City and this community. ”
Kelly accepted. He said there had been a dramatic increase in Winter Olympic events and the growing popularity of sports like freestyle skiing and snowboarding had led to the new Mayflower Mountain Resort being considered an Olympic venue. The resort is just east of Deer Valley and is expected to begin some operations this summer with welcoming skiers next winter.
Sometime Thursday, Park City Mayor Nann Worel and retired alpine skier and two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety joined the IOC technical team for lunch and a discussion on the interface. . Both serve on the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games.
The trip ended Friday in the West Valley City and Ogden area as the group visited old sites like Snowbasin Resort, Maverik Center and more. They also stopped at the Utah Department of Transportation’s Traffic Operations Center to better understand how traffic is controlled on busy roads like Interstate 80.
“It was a very successful visit,” Kelly said. “We know our sites are in great shape and we’ve received lots of great feedback.”
Bullock said the IOC team gave ideas or suggestions on almost every site visited and almost everything is in place if Utah is chosen to host the Olympics. One of the most powerful messages, he said, was the need to “make the Games fit a city” rather than the other way around.
“They said, what you really want to do is understand what the important issues of a community are, what their hopes and aspirations are, and then serve as a catalyst for that community to help them achieve their goals” , said Bullock. “We opened this door to collaboration, to discuss with (local leaders) exactly what Park City and Summit County are trying to accomplish. Over time, we will deepen this understanding and find out how we can help them as catalysts.
He continued, “Now we don’t have a checkbook where we can write big checks, but we can definitely be a catalyst for some initiatives.”
Specifically, Bullock mentioned the importance of sustainability in the Park City area and an effort by the IOC to have “climate positive” Games by 2030. He said the IOC wants to be sensitive to areas of concern local communities and plans to work with Park Ville on the issue.
Going forward, the first task of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games will be to compile the feedback it received from the IOC Technical Review Panel. Then, a delegation will visit the headquarters of the organization in Lausanne, Switzerland, in mid-June to continue the dialogue that all candidate cities are carrying out.
Right after that, the committee will travel to Milan, Italy – the host of the 2026 Winter Olympics – for a debriefing on the Beijing Olympics which took place in February. Bullock said they heard key lessons as they continued to work on their offering.
The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games will then begin submitting thousands of pages of bid packages, including hotel contracts, geographic planning and a vision statement, throughout the year. With the less formal dialogue process, Bullock said an Olympics bid could be awarded at any time.
“It’s really when the IOC feels they have the right partner and the right selection moving forward,” he said. “Our belief is that the Games would most likely be awarded in May 2023 at the IOC session.”