Salt Lake, Sapporo head race to 2030 Olympics, and maybe ’34
Fraser Bullock, who leads Salt Lake City’s bid to return the Winter Olympics to Utah, sounds very confident about success.
“I believe we’ll host a future Game(s). It’s a question of when,” he said last week in a local television interview.
But will it be in 2030, the first opening on the IOC calendar? Or might the International Olympic Committee make a double award and also name the 2034 host? When it had two strong candidates 4 1/2 years ago for the Summer Games, the IOC selected Paris for the 2024 Olympics and Los Angeles for 2028.
The IOC isn’t saying. An announcement is expected early next year, with media reports in Salt Lake City suggesting a decision in May 2023.
“I’ve obviously got my fingers crossed for 2030, but whenever we’re asked to host them, we’ll be ready,” Bullock told the Deseret News in Utah.
The Associated Press requested an interview with Bullock but was told he was talking only to local media. Bullock was the No. 2 to Mitt Romney when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Games.
Under its revised but opaque bid process, the IOC appears to have four possible candidates. Three have held Winter Olympics before: Sapporo (1972), Salt Lake City (2002), and Vancouver (2010). There is also interest from Barcelona, which held the 1992 Summer Games and could propose a bid with regions in the Pyrenees.
An IOC “technical team” was in Salt Lake City last week inspecting venues, and is in Vancouver this week. Meanwhile, a similar visit to Spain is reported to have been delayed.
Sapporo is not known to have a technical visit lined up, but a Japanese bid would have to be among the favorites after officially spending $13.6 billion to organize the one-year delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. At least 60% was public money and probably more, with government audits showing Olympics costs were higher than reported.
A study by the University of Oxford says Tokyo was the most expensive Olympics on record.
Sapporo has organized an “All Japan” conference next week, led by former Prime Minister Taro Aso to promote the bid and showcase the backing of government and Japanese business.
Salt Lake City puts the cost of the Games at $2.2 billion, and Sapporo has a similar figure — $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion. However, Olympic expenditures typically overrun estimates, and accurately predicting costs a decade from now is impossible.
The Winter Games have become a tough sell for the IOC. The choice for 2022 came down to Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing after a half-dozen European candidates dropped out after failed public referendums, or fears about costs.
Neither Sapporo nor Salt Lake City will hold referendums. Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto has said surveys of 10,000 people — online, on-street and by post — show support at between 52% and 65%, Akimoto has given no details of the methodology or the reliability of the surveys.
The Vancouver council last month declined to put a referendum on the ballot for an October municipal election. Vancouver’s proposal is being called the first “Indigenous-led” bid for an Olympics, with First Nations people of Canada planning a feasibility study.
Mark Conrad, who teaches sports law and ethics at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, told the AP that a joint award seemed possible. He is not involved in the process and watches an an outsider.
“Salt Lake City facilities remain from 2002 and are used, and in good shape,” Conrad said, also noting strong public support for the bid. “But the IOC owes Japan big-time and I believe that many facilities may be there or shared via Nagano.”
Nagano held the 1998 Winter Olympics and paid off the debt from those Games several years ago.
With the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028, it would be unusual for the IOC to stay in the United States for the 2030 Winter Games. However, if sponsorship is strong, it might change course. The IOC also generates much of its broadcast revenue from North America.
IOC President Thomas Bach, who leaves office in 2025, might also prefer to leave the awarding of 2034 to his successor.
The 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympics are the only Games open on the immediate Olympic calendar. Paris, Los Angeles and Brisbane, Australia, are lined up for the next three Summer Olympics.
Italy’s Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo will hold the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The IOC has tried to streamline its bid process, partially because of bribery scandals linked to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and Tokyo in 2019 that forced the resignation of IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda.
A bribery scandal also soiled the selection of Salt Lake City.
The host-city selection has been largely taken out of the hands of rank-and-file IOC members who will be asked to rubber-stamp the recommendation of the IOC’s executive board.
The IOC technical team in Salt Lake City was not made available to the media, and members’ names were not disclosed. Members of the technical team were not believed to be IOC members. The IOC said that members who are on the Future Host Commission were not “on-site.”
“The IOC meets regularly, in person or virtually, with interested parties and potential hosts of the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games,” the IOC said in a statement. “The IOC respects the confidentiality of all these discussions.”
Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian figure skating phenom expected to score gold in the women's free skate final, faltered while in the midst of a drugs test scandal.
In December, the teen tested positive for trimetazidine, a heart medication used to treat angina and which can increase blood flow to the heart, experts say.
The results didn't come to light until Valieva was already in Beijing and had won gold in the figure skating team event as she became the first woman to land a quad -- a jump that involves four spins in the air.
Despite Valieva's positive test, she was allowed to compete in the individual figure skating event on the grounds that she was a minor.
During her final program this week, though, she fell several times on the ice and placed fourth behind fellow Russian Olympic Committee teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, who came in first and second respectively. She finished her routine in tears.
Now, eyes are trained on Valieva's coach, a team doctor and the competitive figure skating community in Russia for their roles in what happened to Valieva.
A composed yet jubilant Nathan Chen gave the performance of his career in the men's single skating competition -- and claimed what was rightfully his after a shocking loss at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Skating to a medley of songs including Elton John's "Rocket Man," Chen confidently executed a whopping five quad jumps and ended a nearly five-minute performance with a triumphant smile.
"I definitely wanted to be able to get past that," Chen told CNN of his 2018 performance, in which he fell and failed to medal.
"I wanted to be able to have two short programs that I felt very proud of and fulfilled by, and I'm really glad that I was able to have that experience here."
The 18-year-old freeski superstar won three medals at her first Winter Olympics, including two golds. And in her last program, after a near-perfect performance on the women's halfpipe, she even took a well-deserved victory lap.
Born in the US but competing for China, a decision that has been under its fair share of scrutiny, Gu had one of the splashiest Olympics debuts this year. And she made some history while she was at it -- she's the first freestyle skier to earn three medals at a single Games.
"It has been two straight weeks of the most intense highs and lows I've ever experienced in my life," she told reporters after her win. "It has changed my life forever."
Norway won 16 gold medals in Beijing, the most any country has won in a single Winter Games. The country's competitors have earned gold in cross-country skiing, speed skating and biathlon, among others.
CNN's Henry Enten says Norway has two big benefits powering its Olympics success: Ideal weather for winter sports and money -- the country is a wealthy country, with its GDP in the top 35 worldwide. Winter sports require a lot of gear, training and funds.
Mikaela Shiffrin endured multiple hardships at this year's Games. The American skier had earned gold medals in 2018 and 2014, and fans expected a threepeat from the star in Beijing.
However, things didn't quite work out that way for the 26-year-old Shiffrin who had three DNFs -- "did-not-finish" -- after crashing out in three individual events.
She's been inundated with criticism from viewers and shared screenshots of some of the negative comments she's received. She said in a video shared Friday that, as much as the comments hurt, she hopes that fans who've been in a similar situation can learn to tune out their "haters."
"That message was meant for you guys, to get up and to keep going," she said in a video shared to Twitter. "Get out of bed the next day even though you're getting these messages that make you feel awful."
In her final event at Beijing 2022 the 26-year-old Shiffrin -- along with River Radamus, Tommy Ford and Paula Moltzan -- finished fourth in the mixed team parallel event at the National Alpine Skiing Centre.
"I have had a lot of disappointing moments at these Games, today is not one of them," said Shiffrin. "Today is my favorite memory.
"This was the best possible way that I could imagine ending the Games, skiing with such strong teammates."
The unstoppable 21-year-old snowboarder struck gold yet again with a winning performance on the women's halfpipe -- the same category that earned her a gold medal in 2018, when she was just 17.
That Kim once again dominated was a surprise to no one except maybe Kim herself. She told reporters she'd had "the worst practice ever" before her gold-medal performance, failing to stick most of her landings.
That rough practice didn't show on the snow -- she attempted a trick that involved three-and-a-half spins in the air and earned a score of 94, propelling her to the gold once again.
The California-born 19-year-old, competing for Team China, was bombarded with negative comments online after falling on the ice during the women's figure skating short program earlier this month.
Zhu, who gave up her American citizenship to compete on China's team in 2018 and changed her name from Beverly Zhu, has been criticized by Chinese viewers for her lack of fluency in Chinese in addition to her disappointing performance at the Games.
Still, Zhu is finding the positives in her 2022 trip to the Games. In an Instagram post shared earlier this week, Zhu said she "persevered through years of adversity, and came out a stronger person."
The American speed skater almost didn't make it to the Olympics -- she slipped during qualifying trials -- until a teammate gave up her spot so Jackson could compete.
That swap proved to be well worth it -- Jackson, 29, became the first Black woman to medal in Olympic speed skating, according to Team USA, and the first American woman to win a gold medal in speed skating since 1994.
She clinched the victory by skating just 0.08 seconds ahead of Japan's silver medalist.
"I cried immediately, it was just a big release of emotion," she told reporters. "A lot of shock, a lot of relief and a lot of happiness."
Meyers Taylor became the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history after she won a bronze medal in the two-woman bobsleigh on Saturday.
The medal is the fifth for Meyers Taylor -- passing Shani Davis' four -- as the 37-year-old became the most decorated woman Olympic bobsledder of all-time.
"It's so crazy to hear that stat and to know that I'm part of a legacy that's bigger than me," said Meyers Taylor. "Hopefully it just encourages more and more black athletes to come out to winter sports and not just black athletes, winter sports for everybody."
Sunday's Closing Ceremony was likely emotional for Meyers Taylor -- she was Team USA's flagbearer -- who has hinted this would likely be her last Olympics.
"I'm going to take some time to really think about this. It's going to be really hard to top this Olympics. Two medals and now closing it out with flagbearer, it's going to be really, really hard to top that."
FILE - The Olympic rings are seen during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics on Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. Will it be 2030, the first opening on the IOC calendar? Or might the International Olympic Committee make a double award and also name the 2034 host, which it did 4 1/2 years ago when it had two strong candidates and named Paris for the 2024 Olympics and Los Angeles for 2028. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)