Hopes for another Olympics in Utah were rekindled Monday, as Governor Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced their decision to pursue a bid for the 2026 Winter Games.
The Olympic cauldron at Rice Eccles Stadium was literally in Governor Herbert’s view as he announced his decision based on the recommendations of an Exploratory Committee.
“We’ve reviewed the report and are here to announce that Salt Lake City and the great state of Utah are ready, willing, and able to host a future winter Olympic game.”
Polling indicates that 74 percent of Utahns want to host another Olympics. Herbert said it would strengthen Utah’s image as a winter sports capital, and would be a fiscally responsible choice for the state and the country, since the venues are already built. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said Utah may be viewed favorably by the International Committee because of its compactness and minimal carbon footprint.
“Not only do we have an urban area to be able to host the quality and the size of what’s needed today and going forward, but we have the capacity to do it in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment, and allows us to look at how we can enhance our own position going forward,” said Becker.
But before Utah can pursue a bid, the US Olympic Committee has to decide whether it will pursue the Summer Games in 2024 or the Winter Games in 2026. Fraser Bullock is on Utah’s Olympic Exploratory Committee for Utah, and played a large role in mounting 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake. He told KUER that the US would probably prefer the Summer Games, but it might be prohibitively expensive.
“Will a US city step up to 5 or 10 billion dollars to host a games, particularly in today’s economic environment ? That’s the challenge,” said Bullock, “And so if that doesn’t work, obviously we turn to a winter games that can be hosted reasonably, economically, and very successfully here in Utah.”
According to Bullock, the US Olympic Committee should make a decision early next year.