Salt Lake City wants to bid for 2026 Winter Olympics but must wait on USOC decision first

Monday, 03 December 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Salt Lake City 2002December 3 - Salt Lake City will try to launch a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, it was confirmed today, but it must still convince the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) before it can proceed.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker officially gave their backing to the idea today.

But the prospect of the Games returning to Salt Lake City 24 years after they hosted them in 2002 was not greeted so enthusiastically by the USOC.

"We obviously are appreciative that the Olympic Movement is strong enough to have cities interested in potentially bidding," said Patrick Sandusky, the USOC's spokesman.

"However the USOC is focused on determining when it would be the right time to potentially bid for an Olympic Games."

A working group is due to report the USOC Board meeting on December 19 but a final decision on whether to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics or 2026 Winter Games is not expected to be formally made until next year.

It is widely assumed, though, that a bid for 2024 is the preferred option of the USOC with cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco all possible contenders.

That, however, has not stopped a number of candidates emerging for 2026.

Bode Miller Salt Lake City 2002Salt Lake City is the "winter sports capital" of the US, according to Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert

Salt Lake City join Reno-Lake Tahoe and Denver in formally declaring their they want to bid, while Bozeman in Montana has also claimed it would be interested.

A total of 74 per cent of local people support another bid from Salt Lake City, according to a report prepared by the Olympic Exploratory Committee, which had been set-up to investigate whether they should bid again.

It is also claimed that 40 per cent of America's winter Olympic athletes train at the 2002 Olympic facilities in Utah, which include an indoor speed skating oval, ski jumping ramps, a freestyle skiing training ramp and pool and a bobsled, luge and skeleton track.

"Utah's Olympic legacy is strong and vibrant and ready to provide the foundation for a future Olympic Winter Games," the Exploratory Committee concluded in its 36-page report.

"Salt Lake City and the great state of Utah are ready, willing and able to host a future Olympic Games," said Herbert.

"Utah has become the winter sports capital of the USA.

"By hosting another Winter Games, our commitment to support ongoing Olympic Movement initiatives will only be strengthened."

The report estimated that it would cost $1 million (£621,000/€766,000) for bid at the USOC level and between $25 million (£15 million/€19 million) and $30 million (£19 million/€23 million) to compete internationally. 

The money for any bid would come from private sources.

The proposed budget for hosting the 2026 Games is $1.67 billion (£1.03 billion/€1.28 billion), about $300 million (£186 million/€230 million) more than it cost in 2002. 

But the infrastructure costs would be mininal, the report claimed.

The biggest cost it identified was $85 million (£53 million/€65 million) to upgrade the bobsled, luge and skeleton track, speedskating oval and other Olympic facilities.

The economic impact of hosting the Games would be $5 billion (£3 billion/€4 billion) and create 30,000 jobs, the report claimed.

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