France's 2030 Winter Olympics bid 'on hold' pending national elections

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SALT LAKE CITY — France's bid for the 2030 Winter Games has stalled, at least temporarily, but the International Olympic Committee is counting on the needed government guarantees to come through in time for a final vote in July, the same time that Utah hopes to be awarded the 2034 Winter Games.

The French Alps bid "has not been suspended. It is on hold," the committee's Olympic Games executive director, Christophe Dubi, told reporters, according to a translation, during a virtual news conference from Switzerland held Thursday, after the second of three days of executive Olympic committee meetings.

Wednesday, the executive Olympic committee advanced bids from both France and Salt Lake City to the International Olympic Committee annual session that will be held in Paris, just before the start of the 2024 Summer Games. There, the full membership will be asked to ratify the hosts of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games on July 24, Utah's Pioneer Day.

A final vote on France's bid, however, was made contingent on the national and regional governments involved signing off on covering the costs of the Winter Games. France is the only bidder and the committee's preferred host for 2030, while Utah's bid holds the same status for 2034.

Dubi said the French bid is "excellent, so let's start with that. Technically, it's a really impeccable dossier." International Olympic Committee leaders heard Wednesday, he said, about the bid's "sustainability, experience of athletes, and we all know there's an amazing capacity in the region to organize those Games. However, we need the state guarantee."

What's delaying that from happening is French President Emmanuel Macron's sudden decision to dissolve France's parliament and call a national legislative election in the wake of far-right victories in Sunday's European Parliament vote. The final round of voting in the French election is set for July 7.

Dubi said the French government guarantees will have to wait until after the July 7 election.

"The document has to be issued by the government. There is a democratic process in France. We need to let this process go forward, and then we will get all the guarantees," he said, adding that France's national Olympic committee assured the International Olympic Committee in a letter that there's an agreement in principle between the national and regional governments.

"So nothing is saying that we won't get all the guarantees," Dubi said, suggesting the clock is ticking on naming a 2030 host. Traditionally, the committee picked Games hosts seven years in advance, but there's no set timetable in the new, less formal selection process that is being used for the first time for the Winter Games.

"We are deciding on these Games one year after the calendar usually says. Why? Because France has the capacity to organize a major event, as we see now," he said. "Part of the job that's been done already, the political, the administrative work with Paris 2024 will benefit the organizers of France 2030."

France was a late entry in the race, getting in less than a year ago after the International Olympic Committee put off naming preferred hosts, allowing for new bids. Salt Lake City, which has been going after another Olympics for more than a decade, sought either the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games but wanted to wait to host to avoid competing for sponsors with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Although there has been speculation that Salt Lake City could be asked to host in 2030 if the French bid falls through, both the International Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that's behind the bid have repeatedly ruled out that possibility.

Bids that reach the new preferred host status — as France and Utah did late last year — must submit a number of guarantees, including from the government entities agreeing to cover any "potential economic shortfall" organizers run into to ensure they can deliver the Games and meet all of their financial obligations.

Utah's 2034 bid, which relies entirely on private sources of revenue, largely the sale of sponsorships, broadcast rights and tickets, secured the financial guarantee from the state, as was done when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Games.

Then, the state agreed to indemnify Salt Lake City against any losses, since the committee previously only contracted with cities. This time around, Gov. Spencer Cox would sign the host agreement, pledging that Utah taxpayers will underwrite the Games. The Salt Lake City-Utah bid committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee are also signatories.

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Lisa Riley Roche


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