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U.S., France move closer to hosting Winter Olympics, Paralympics

Salt Lake City Winter Olympics

400804 57: (NEWSWEEK, U.S. NEWS, MACLEANS & GERMANY OUT) General view during the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games at Rice Eccles Stadium February 8, 2002 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Salt Lake City’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Olympics and Paralympics took an important, advanced step in talks with the IOC. So did a French bid to host the 2030 Winter Games.

The IOC announced Wednesday that those two bids were recommended for “targeted dialogue” about hosting those respective Winter Games.

The IOC Future Host Commission recommended awarding the 2030 Games to France and the 2034 Games to Salt Lake City next summer, should talks be successful. Salt Lake City hosted the last Winter Games in the U.S. in 2002.

“We did it!” Fraser Bullock, a leader for the Salt Lake City bid committee and for the 2002 organizing committee, told a crowd moments after the announcement. “I spoke to the IOC early this morning. I kind of knew what was coming. They love Utah. They love our people. They love the fact that we have these beautiful mountains, these venues so close together, the support of the public, the support of our political leaders, which is unanimous, and that we have all the pieces in place.”

Under recent Olympic bidding reforms, the IOC can enter targeted dialogue with what it deems a “preferred host” candidate rather than holding a traditional bid race with multiple candidates all the way through a final IOC members vote.

Targeted dialogue was used to choose Brisbane, Australia, as host of the 2032 Summer Olympics. In February 2021, the IOC announced it entered targeted dialogue with Australian officials. Five months later, Brisbane was elected host.

Sweden and Switzerland also mounted 2030 bids. The IOC said Wednesday that the Swiss bid was given “privileged dialogue” for possibly hosting the 2038 Winter Games.

The IOC said in October that it hopes to elect at least the 2030 host at next summer’s IOC session, which is expected to take place in Paris days before the 2024 Olympics.

If conditions are met, the IOC can decide both the 2030 and 2034 hosts at that session.

The U.S. and France were already part of a historic double awarding of the Summer Games: in 2017, the IOC announced that Paris would host the 2024 Games and Los Angeles would host the 2028 Games.

The next Winter Games in 2026 will be in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic and Salt Lake City bid officials have said for more than one year that they preferred to host 2034 over 2030 due to the proximity of the 2028 LA Games, but could step into 2030 if asked by the IOC.

“In Salt Lake City, we’ve had a partner for three years now, and they’ve been incredibly patient, incredibly thorough, and were able to rally everyone behind what is a superb project,” Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi said.

The IOC said the Salt Lake City plan includes 100% existing or temporary venues, all within one hour of an Athletes’ Village.

As in 2002, the plan has the University of Utah’s football stadium holding Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Utah Jazz arena for figure skating and short track speed skating and many skiing and snowboarding events in Park City, a 45-minute drive east of the state capital.

In 2018, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee chose Salt Lake City over Denver as its next Winter Games bid city. A Reno-Tahoe bid was in the early running before withdrawing.

A 32-year gap between the U.S. hosting the Winter Games would be the longest in the nation’s history since the first Winter Games in France in 1924.

France 2030 bid plans were announced in July and submitted to the IOC in early November. The venue plan spreads across four hubs in Southeastern France near previous Winter Games hosts Chamonix (1924), Grenoble (1968) and Albertville (1992).

Nice would host the indoor sports of figure skating, hockey, short track speed skating and curling. Nice is 143 miles south of Albertville as the crow flies and more than double that in driving distance.

No long-track speed skating venue has been announced. France does not have a speed skating arena that is used on the top-level World Cup. Organizers could look for a venue outside of France or propose a temporary facility.

France can become the second nation to host the Winter Games four times, joining the U.S.

The 2030 and 2034 Winter Games venue plans are below.

Salt Lake City 2034 Winter Olympic venue plan map