Salt Lake City and a reassuring review. X / SLC2030

Salt Lake City has welcomed top officials from the International Olympic Committee to explore potential sites for the 2034 Winter Olympic Games.

Salt Lake City, Utah, is the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) preferred host city for the 2034 Olympic Winter Games, but the final decision will not be made until 24 July, during the week of the thirty-third modern Olympic Games.

IOC leaders are expected to review the findings of the Future Host Commission in June and then decide whether to hold a formal vote of all members at that time.

Over the weekend, several IOC officials were in Salt Lake City, including Karl Stoss, President of the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games, Christophe Dubi, Executive Director of the IOC Olympic Games, and Jacqueline Barrett, Director of Future Olympic Games Hosts for the IOC, who toured several proposed venues for the second Winter Games in Utah.

The IOC Future Host Commission toured the proposed sites during their four-day trip. The Commission visited Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Utah Olympic Park and ski areas in Park City, Soldier Hollow in Midway and Snowbasin and the Utah Olympic Oval. The Commission also attended a community forum, rode a TRAX train and spoke with local athletes.

Dubi said much has changed in the decades since he witnessed the exuberance of now US Senator Romney as head of the 2002 Utah Games. Salt Lake City has gone through an Olympic flowering, a real transformation, probably due to many things, but the Games are one of them. There's no doubt about it," said the managing director of the Eccles Theatre in Utah's capital. 

Utah bid committee chairman Fraser Bullock said the commission told the team it had underestimated the venues in its bid for the 2034 Games. Commission chairman Karl Stoss said all the venues were well maintained and the commission was impressed that there wasn't much work to be done.

Stoss also appreciated that all the venues are within an hour of downtown Salt Lake City. This is unique to Utah and will be an advantage as the Salt Lake Olympic Village will be able to house all the competing athletes in one place and keep them together.

Another factor in the bid's favour was the region's passion for the Games. In this regard, Jacqueline Barrett said she was surprised that everyone the Commission met had a passion for the Games. "I was here personally in 2002, but to see that passion still alive and well today, absolutely everywhere, was fantastic to see," she said.

Other highlights for the Commission included Utah's efforts to promote sport among young people, using the 2002 Olympic Games as a springboard. The Youth Sports Alliance, which helps introduce children to various winter sports, is one of the best examples, as it was created because of the '02 Games.

In this context, Dubi stressed the importance of promoting sport among young people, not only because it is good for their health, but also because it promotes values such as respect.

"If you look at the state of the world today, the tensions around the globe, sport is important because it is based on values," he said. "In Paris, and in 2034, in the village up there at the university, you have every country, regardless of passport, religion, race or political system. This is what we have to teach through sport, respect for everyone and everything," stressed the IOC official.

Stoss, for his part, said that Utah had taken a new approach to bidding for the Games and would be a role model for future hosts. He hopes that other countries and states in the US will learn from Utah and start developing programmes to promote sport for children and continue to use Olympic venues.

While all signs point to Utah hosting the 2034 Games, with praise coming from the executive director of the Games himself, who called Utah a "hidden gem", caution is advised as nothing has been finalised yet.

Karl Stoss, another IOC member from Austria who assessed Utah's readiness to host again, said he was "very impressed" with the new venues that will be located in the city centre, including a huge temporary ski and snowboard jump for big air events.

Everything seems to be pointing towards Salt Lake City 2034, but there is still a long way to go and the celebrations should not be premature. Everyone knows that, despite the great results after the important IOC visit.

The Future Host Commission will prepare a report on its visit to Utah for the IOC to consider before voting on a host for the 2034 Games. The IOC will announce its decision on 24 July, before the Summer Games in Paris.