Salt Lake City or Denver could still be in mix for 2026 winter Olympics
By Callum Murray in Lima
A US bid to host the 2026 winter Olympic Games remains a possibility, with Salt Lake City and Denver showing interest.
Salt Lake City was the last US city to host the winter Olympics, albeit in the wake of a bribery scandal relating to the award of those games.
Talk of a 2026 US winter Olympics bid has resurfaced here in Lima, Peru, where the International Olympic Committee’s Session began today, even though Los Angeles will host the 2028 Olympics just two years later, and despite USA also bidding to host the 2026 Fifa World Cup, in a joint bid with Canada and Mexico.
One source told Sportcal that USA is the only market in the world big enough to contemplate hosting such a combination of events in quick succession, albeit it remains unclear whether the US Olympic Committee would sanction a bid for the winter Olympics so close to the summer edition.
However, preliminary talks are reported to have begun over a US bid for the 2026 games, with Max Cobb, the president of US Biathlon, telling AP: “The sooner the winter Olympics can come back to the US, the better. We’ve got a fantastic set of venues in Utah that are still in use and more or less at world-class standard.”
Having hosted the games as recently as 2002, Salt Lake City is thought to be favourite if a US city does bid, but Denver is also showing interest, with Matthew Payne, executive director of the Denver Sports Commission, telling AP: “We would welcome an invitation to discuss, in depth, what it would take for Denver to become a winter Olympic host city.”
In 2014, Salt Lake City was ready to step in if required, had the IOC found itself without a host city for the 2022 games after a series of withdrawals by bid cities.
Spencer Eccles, a philanthropist who is also a board member of Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, told AP that Utah would be open to being an emergency backup had the remaining 2022 candidates, Beijing in China and Almaty in Kazakhstan, dropped out. In the event, both cities went the distance in the bid process, with Beijing being chosen as the host.
Other possible 2026 bidders include Sion (Switzerland), Innsbruck (Austria), Calgary (Canada) and a city in Norway, while recent changes to the bidding process could also re-energise a bid by Stockholm, which has been struggling over a lack of political support in the Swedish capital.
Teams from Sion, Innsbruck and Calgary are all attending this week’s IOC Session, as they seek to gauge possible support for a bid.