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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said this week the IOC’s new agenda urging lower costs for host cities has spurred more interest in bidding on the Winter Olympics, but he wouldn’t discuss the implications for future U.S. bids.
“After the approval of the Olympic Agenda 2020 [in December] we have seen a good interest in many areas of the world, and we are in contact with some of these countries, but it is too early to tell whether in the end this will materialize,” Bach said at a press conference Tuesday during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
The new agenda was adopted after several 2022 bidders were scared off by the staggering $51 billion Russia spent hosting the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, much of it reportedly for infrastructure. The agenda is a strategic roadmap of 40 recommendations “for more flexibility in the bid process, a stronger emphasis on legacy, lower costs and improved sustainability.”
Asked how the new agenda might impact future U.S. Winter Olympic bids in interested cities such as Denver, Bach said the focus now is on the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympic programs.
“It’s too early,” Bach said. “I will see the Boston bid leaders [Tuesday] afternoon in Colorado. I think my welcome would be a little bit cold if I speak now about a U.S. [winter] bid for 2026.”
Boston was selected last month by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which have not been held in the U.S. since Atlanta in 1996.
Salt Lake City was the last U.S. host of the Winter Olympics in 2002, and is interested again.
The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics cost about $2 billion to host in 2002, and the metro area benefited hugely from highway and mass transit improvements—a legacy proponents say gives the city a leg up in pursuing future games under the new bidding agenda.
In Colorado, an Olympic bid is seen by some state and local officials as a possible catalyst for high-speed rail or other transportation infrastructure improvement along the sometimes gridlocked Interstate 70 corridor connecting Denver to mountain resorts up to 150 miles to the west.
This story first appeared in Government Executive State & Local. Go to their website to read more.