The Utah’s Olympic bid committee will no longer travel to Switzerland, since the IOC’s meeting will be held online in light of COVID-19.
Due to additional worries over COVID-19, proponents of another Winter Games in Utah in 2030 or 2034 may have to wait even longer to fly to Switzerland for discussions at the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters.
A previously scheduled conference to discuss details of the new, more casual bid procedure being utilized for the first time to pick the host city for the 2030 Winter Games had been rescheduled for Dec. 6 due to the absence of many participants in November.
Now, the International Olympic Committee has informed the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that their Dec. 6 meeting would be held electronically and will be shortened due to the time zone difference. A lengthier in-person discussion is likely to take place following the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
Fraser Bullock, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Utah bid committee and former Chief Operations Officer of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, voiced his disappointment about cancellation of the in-person meetings at the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“There are several acquaintances and pals there. We want to see them again. However, in the case of COVID, we will just have to wait,” Bullock said, praising the IOC’s decision to have a virtual meeting in light of the omicron strain, which has already limited travel in several nations.
“The entire globe is concerned about the COVID rise and the omicron version at the moment, so caution is prudent,” he added. “Our primary concern is to keep everyone safe. We can accomplish much of what we want in today’s technological environment, but in-person contact is critical as well.”
The bid team will have another opportunity to market Salt Lake City to IOC members in the near future. Bullock, bid committee chairwoman Catherine Raney Norman, and consultant Darren Hughes have been granted permission to attend the Beijing Olympics despite a COVID-19-related prohibition on foreign spectators.
“We will still have a chance to communicate,” Bullock stated.
Apart from the virus, the next Olympics have already sparked controversy over China’s human rights record, with Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the 2002 Winter Games’ previous president, and others calling for a diplomatic boycott.
Salt Lake City, which was chosen over Denver three years ago to host an undefined future Winter Games, competes with Vancouver, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; Barcelona, Spain, and the surrounding mountain region; and Ukraine’s Svydovets region.
The USOPC has not yet decided whether Salt Lake City would bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games, but its December board meeting is anticipated to take place in Utah during the Olympic speedskating trials at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has declined to identify which candidate towns have previously met with IOC officials. On Nov. 12, Governor Spencer Cox, USOPC Chairwoman Susanne Lyons, and Bullock met virtually with members of the International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games to kick off the new bid process.