Austrian Karl Stoss has replaced Octavian Morariu as chair of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Future Host Commission (FHC).

Morariu, of joint French-Romanian nationality, took the decision following a decision of the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) to explore hosting future editions of the Olympic Winter Games, potentially as soon as 2030.

He took the decision, the IOC has said, to “avoid any potential conflict of interest.”

The body said this move is “in keeping with the Future Host Commission’s terms of reference.”

Stoss is already a serving member of the FHC, which identifies a preferred candidate for Olympic hosting and then proposes it to the IOC’s executive board. Morariu had been its chair since 2019.

Morariu has been an IOC member in Romania, and president of the Rugby Europe body, since 2013.

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Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, said: “Karl Stoss brings with him huge experience of winter sports, coming as he does from one of the leading winter sports nations in the world.

"Under his chairmanship, the Commission will be in very safe hands as we continue the dialogue with a number of potential hosts for the Olympic Winter Games 2030 and beyond. I would like to also thank Octavian Morariu for all his dedication and hard work in chairing the Commission since it was created in 2019.”

With Stoss stepping up to replace Morariu as chair, Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen has taken the vacant position on the commission.

The CNOSF has backed a proposal from two French regions – the adjacent Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions of Southern France – to submit a bid for the 2030 games with the IOC.

France has already hosted the Winter Olympics three times – in 1924, 1968, and 1992 – while its capital Paris will stage the Summer Olympics next year.

The French body will now ask the coalition of potential host cities and the IOC to open up a formal dialogue, potentially leading to a bid file.

Other options in terms of the 2030 games include Sweden, Switzerland, the US, Canada, and Japan. All these nations have officially declared interest, with the IOC having said in June that six cities were candidates.

The host or hosts of the 2030 Winter Olympics is expected to be announced by the IOC by the opening ceremony of next year’s Olympics in Paris in late July, although reports suggest a decision could potentially be taken as early as October this year.

The IOC has also discussed the potential for awarding hosting rights to the 2030 and 2034 games at the same time “to create stability for winter sports” and has said it will explore this option further.

The 2026 Winter Olympics will take place in the Milan-Cortina region of Northern Italy.