USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland claims Salt Lake City's interest has been made "very clear" to the IOC ©Getty Images

United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) chief executive Sarah Hirshland insists Salt Lake City’s interest in staging the Winter Olympics has been made "very clear" to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) despite remaining undecided over bidding for either the 2030 or 2034 Games.

Salt Lake City is among several cities that have entered dialogue with the IOC over hosting the Games, but no formal bids have been tabled.

Speaking at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in July, USOPC chair Susanne Lyons revealed they were "poised and ready" to discuss Salt Lake City’s bid with the IOC.

But Hirshland admitted that the USOPC had yet to make a decision over whether they were bidding for either the 2030 or 2034 edition.

"We have not made a determination on a year to bid for," said Hirshland.

"But we are absolutely engaged with the Salt Lake organising group as well as the IOC and its [Future] Winter Host Commission.

"We are continuing to explore and ensure that the IOC and that important [Future] Winter Host Commission understands the Salt Lake community and surrounding communities, the venues and the opportunity that sits in front of us.

"And all of that work can continue to go on and is going on in a very active way."

Salt Lake City - which staged the 2002 Winter Olympics - is considered to be a possible host for either the 2030 or 2034 Games ©Getty Images
Salt Lake City - which staged the 2002 Winter Olympics - is considered to be a possible host for either the 2030 or 2034 Games ©Getty Images

The race to win the hosting rights for 2030 Winter Olympics is picking up with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez backing a potential Aragon-Catalonia bid after meeting the Spanish Olympic Committee earlier this month.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently told IOC President Thomas Bach in person that Ukraine is "determined" to become a Winter Olympic host.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto threw her support behind a possible Sapporo bid to stage the 2030 edition following the conclusion of the Paralympics, while Vancouver and Quebec City in Canada and Bashkortostan in Russia have been mooted as other potential host cities.

Although interest is picking up, Hirshland does not believe the IOC will decide on the 2030 Games before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, scheduled to run from February 4 to 20.

"It really is an ongoing discussion happening and a much less structured, sort of big window open or closed," said Hirshland.

"So we consider the bid process to be very open and very active."

Hirshland is also convinced Salt Lake City’s chances of hosting the Winter Olympics will not be harmed by their failure to announce a preferred Games to bid for prior to Beijing 2022.

The IOC has not set a timeline for when it will award the 2030 Winter Olympics ©Getty Images
The IOC has not set a timeline for when it will award the 2030 Winter Olympics ©Getty Images

"I don’t think there’s any lack of clarity around our interest," said Hirshland.

"That’s been made very clear both to the IOC and has been widely written about.

"So, I don’t think there’s any question about our commitment and our interest.

"At a point in time in which it seems appropriate and we feel confident that we have the right collective decision on timing then we will absolutely announce that and I can’t speculate whether that will be before Beijing or not."

USOPC officials have previously admitted a 2030 bid is made more difficult by the fact Los Angeles is staging the Summer Olympics in 2028.

Fraser Bullock, head of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, told the Salt Lake Tribune that they had been holding weekly meetings with the USOPC in preparation for a potential bid.

"As we’ve done so, we’ve gained more and more clarity," said Bullock.

"And based on that, we think there’s still a few outstanding items that we need to prepare.

"With that, we’re hopeful that in the not too distant future, a decision could be made regarding whether to pursue 2030 or 2034."

Salt Lake City last staged the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2002 and looks set to bid for the Games for a sixth time.

The city bid unsuccessfully to host the Games in 1932, 1972, 1976 and 1998 before being awarded the 2002 edition, a bid process marred by the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the IOC.