Salt Lake City hopes to make bid for 2026 Olympics

The Olympic flame is lit during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City continues to position itself to make a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, citing well-maintained facilities from its 2002 games that it hopes will attract the attention of Olympic organizers.

The United States Olympic Committee has yet to first decide which country will host those games. The panel is determining whether to launch a bid for the 2024 Summer Games, a decision expected later this year or early next year. If they go that direction, the USOC will not pick a U.S. city for the 2026 Winter Games, officials said in a recent conference call.

Utah officials know the circumstances but are nonetheless preparing. Salt Lake City could simply update its facilities, rather than start from scratch, said Fraser Bullock, former chief operating officer for the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“We could put on another Games that at least would break even if not be profitable, where other cities would be facing deficits,” Bullock told the Tribune. “We are the poster child for what should happen after an Olympics.”

In December 2012, when Utah officials first announced they would make a longshot bid for 2026, Bullock said Salt Lake City could put on the games with private funding for about $1.67 billion, relying on the federal government to cover hundreds of millions of dollars extra for security.

The 2002 games were successful but left Salt Lake tarnished by scandal. Utah showered $1 million in cash, gifts and other favors on International Olympic Committee delegates, prompting a new rule book for Olympic bids. Two Salt Lake bid executives were tried on federal racketeering charges but were acquitted.

It’s not unprecedented for a city to get the Olympics twice, but cities usually have to wait 20 years or more in between hosting. The exception is Innsbruck, Austria, which hosted the winter games in 1964 and 1976.

The list of cities that has hosted multiple Olympics includes Lake Placid, New York (1932 and 1980); St. Moritz, Switzerland (1928 and 1948); and Innsbruck, Austria (1964 and 1976).

The Summer Games have revisited Athens (1896 and 2004); Paris (1900 and 1924); Los Angeles (1932 and 1984); and London, the only city to hold the Summer Games three times (1908, 1948 and 2012.)

For now, the USOC is focusing on 2014. The committee announced in June that Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. are the cities they are eyeing for 2024.

Over the next seven months, the USOC will decide whether it even wants to try to host the Olympics. The deadline for deciding is expected in early 2015. The last two U.S. candidates both suffered humiliating fourth-place finishes: New York for the 2012 Olympics and Chicago for the 2016 Games that went to Rio de Janeiro.

If Salt Lake City were chosen by the USOC, it would then need to convince the International Olympic Committee. That organization selects Olympic cities seven years in advance, which means 2019 for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker believes the ready-to-go facilities would send the city to the top of the list. “We have all of that in place, literally saving billions of dollars in trying to host another Olympics. . It makes a huge difference,” he said.

Tom Kelly, a spokesman for United States Ski and Snowboard Association, said it certainly makes Salt Lake City an intriguing option.

“What one would need to look at in that situation (of bidding) is: How current are all the venues?” said Tom Kelly, VP of Communications for USSA. “Fortunately here, the infrastructures have been maintained since and events have been used on them.”


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