The hosts of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympics and Paralympics are to be awarded at the same time after this move was formally approved by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members.

The move was backed by the seven presidents of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federation during the first day of the IOC's session in Mumbai, India, yesterday (October 15) to give the Future Host Commission (FHC) more time to assess the prospects for winter sports.

Ahead of the session, the FHC’s chair Karl Stoss outlined the challenges posed by climate change following the commission’s study, including that only 10 countries are projected to be able to host the winter games in 2040, under IOC requirements to use mostly existing venues, and a lack of countries projected to have suitable temperatures at that time.

He said that further assessment of the issues called for a double award for 2030 and 2024 – a move backed by IOC president Thomas Bach after longstanding 2030 favorite Sapporo, Japan, officially withdrew from bidding amid public scrutiny following various Tokyo 2020 corruption scandals.

The IOC has awarded hosting rights to two Olympic and Paralympic Games simultaneously once before – in 2017, when members voted for the 2024 and 2028 summer games to be given to Paris, France, and Los Angeles, US, respectively.

Stoss said: “Whilst we look forward to celebrating 100 years of the Olympic Winter Games next February, there is no doubt that we are facing great challenges, and our goal is to ensure we can continue to hold successful games in the future.

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“A double allocation would bring security for the Olympic Movement in solid tradition winter sport and climate-reliable hosts until 2034 while allowing the IOC time to reflect on the long-term future of the Winter Games.”

Stoss also confirmed France, Sweden, and Switzerland are the three contenders for the 2030 edition of the Winter Olympic Games. Salt Lake City in the US has expressed its preference for the 2034 Games, meanwhile.

The FHC is due to consider each candidate at its meeting next month.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the country’s interest in hosting the 2036 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The IOC’s session in Mumbai was widely expected to see India bid to host its first Olympics, with Modi using his opening ceremony speech to confirm the country’s interest.

He said: “India will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to organize the Olympics in India in 2036. This is the age-old dream and aspiration of 1.4 billion Indians.

“This dream has to be built with your cooperation and support. I am very confident that India will consistently get the support of the IOC. Friends, sports is not the medium of winning medals, but it is a medium to win people’s hearts.”

The recent addition of cricket to the Olympic program for the 2028  Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles is widely viewed as an attempt to appeal to the South Asian market.

Along with cricket, the IOC approved Twenty20 cricket, flag football, six-a-side lacrosse, squash, and baseball/softball onto the LA28 program under rules that allow host cities to put forward sports that appeal to the home nation.

Amid the session, Bach also announced the launch of an inaugural Olympic Esports Games.

He said he had asked the recently established Esports Commission led by David Lappartient, the International Cycling Union president, to explore the creation of an event, adding: “This was a promising start, but it is just that – a start.

“It is like in any sport – after the promising start, the real race still lies ahead.”

A target date has not been set for the inaugural games, but Bach claimed there are three billion people playing (esports of some type) and gaming around the world, with the majority of them under the age of 34, and over 500 million specifically interested in esports, including virtual sports and sports simulations.

The IOC first participated in esports in 2018, launching the Esports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The governing body developed the Olympic Virtual Series and Olympic Esports Week in Singapore in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

However, Bach ruled out including games perceived to glorify violence, such as the popular Call of Duty game, adding: “With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will not cross.

“Our crystal clear position is gaining more and more respect in the esports community.”

During the session, members also urged Bach to alter Olympic rules on term limits, in order to seek another four years as president of the IOC.

Bach’s presidency is due to end in 2025 after serving a 12-year term under rules put in place as part of reforms passed after the Salt Lake City bid scandal in the 1990s.

Now, however, Algeria’s Mustapha Berraf, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, has raised the idea of Bach being allowed to continue, with this idea backed by Dominican Republic Olympic Committee president Luis Mejia Ovideo and Djibouti’s Aïcha Garad Ali.

IOC vice president John Coates, head of the Legal Commission, told delegates that a written proposal to amend the Charter has to be submitted 30 days before a session for consideration.

Bach was elected as IOC president for an eight-year term in 2013, succeeding Jacques Rogge. He was then given a further four-year term in 2021.

Responding to the calls, Bach did not rule out the move and added: “First of all, thank you very much for your kind words of support, because I think these words of support are not only directed to me, they are directed to all of us.

“What made us overcome the challenges we had was exactly this unity, this support which you expressed with regard to many items overall at the time, and we can only be credible if we are appealing to all these divisive forces in the world if we are appealing to respect the unifying of sport if we ourselves are unified. 

“Otherwise, we have no credibility. If we are divided, how can we teach others about unity and our unifying power.”