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Ukraine says it is “determined” to host Winter Olympics, begins conversations with IOC

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine leads the team during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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It was revealed on Monday by the International Olympic Committee that Ukraine is “determined” to host the Winter Olympics. The eastern European nation has officially entered the IOC’s dialogue phase.

IOC President Thomas Bach visited Ukraine over the weekend to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, during which Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky informed Bach of the country’s strong interest.

While Europe has held more than double the number of Olympic Games than any other continent -- 30 to North America’s 12 -- only two of those Olympics were in eastern Europe, both taking place in Russia (the 1980 summer edition in Moscow and 2014 winter edition in Sochi).

Ukraine will likely become just the second eastern European nation to host the Olympics.

The IOC’s dialogue phase, part of the Olympic Agenda 2020 reformations, allows a potential Olympic host city - or, in this case, country - to work with the IOC on a continuous basis with no specific Games year in mind, instead working toward when works best for the potential host region and Olympic movement based on the host’s preparedness and plan.

Beijing will host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which begins in less than five months, and Milan and Cortina in Italy were awarded the 2026 Winter Olympics. A 2030 Games seems unlikely for Ukraine, as strong bids are already in the works from 2002 Olympic city Salt Lake City, 1972 Olympic city Sapporo, Japan, 2010 Olympic city Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Barcelona-Pyrenees regions with venues proposed in Andorra, France and Spain. 2034 is currently wide open, with only Salt Lake City expressing earnest interest so far, saying it is prepared to bid for either 2030 or 2034.

Ukraine’s NOC said it plans to send a committee to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, “as soon as possible” to formally begin the dialogue.

According to the IOC, Bach “warmly welcomed the initiative ‘given the great sports tradition of Ukraine, and after having seen a very impressive presentation of the most recent sports and sports infrastructure in the country.’”

Bach, Zelensky and others visited the new Urban Sports Park in the nation’s capital, Kiev.

Ukraine has won 147 Olympic medals since it began competing independently in 1994 -- 139 in summer sports, led by gymnastics (19), and eight in winter, led by biathlon (5).

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