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IOC deal may be good news for another Salt Lake Olympics

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SALT LAKE CITY — The International Olympic Committee's decision Tuesday to seek an agreement with Paris and Los Angeles over hosting the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games looks like good news for another Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

"I think it's a far greater opportunity for Salt Lake City today than it was yesterday," said Ed Hula, editor and founder of the Atlanta-based international online Olympic news source, Around the Rings.

Hula said the plan to seek a three-way deal between the two cities bidding for the 2024 Summer Games and the IOC executive board suggests the IOC may well be willing to consider breaking tradition for back-to-back Summer and Winter Games in the United States.

That would most likely mean the next Winter Games Salt Lake City could host would be in 2030, Hula said, since the expectation is that Paris will get the 2024 Summer Games, and Los Angeles the 2028 Summer Games.

Salt Lake City, host of the 2002 Winter Games, has been interested in bidding for another Olympics. But the U.S. Olympic Committee, which must submit the bids of American cities, has only sought Summer Games.

Tuesday, the USOC said it's still too soon to talk about a U.S. bid for a Winter Games.

"We're exclusively focused on our bid to bring the Games to L.A.," USOC spokesman Mark Jones told the Deseret News.

The United States has not hosted a Summer Games since Atlanta in 1996. If a deal is not reached with Paris and Los Angeles, only the hosting rights of the 2024 Summer Games will be named by the IOC in September.

Utah Sports Commission President and CEO Jeff Robbins said Salt Lake City remains "ready, willing and able" to host another Olympics by maintaining the 2002 competition facilities and holding many national and international sporting events.

"We're doing a lot in the Olympic world, so when the USOC decides they're going to bid on a Winter Games, we hope we're in as good a shape as we can be," Robbins said.

The IOC's unusual plan to award two Summer Games at the same time could make that happen sooner rather than later.

"They kind of rewrote the rules. Right now, you really don't know what the IOC would do," Robbins said, noting a 2030 Winter Games in Salt Lake City following a Summer Games in Los Angeles historically wouldn't be possible.

"I think they are understanding the costs are more," he said, making a former Olympic city like Salt Lake City that has venues and infrastructure already in place more attractive to the IOC.

And, Robbins said, the state continues to get the highest TV ratings for Olympic coverage, demonstrating Utahns' "real affinity for the Games."

The Salt Lake Games, the first major international event after the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States, was widely hailed as the best-ever Winter Games.

Pyeongchang, South Korea, is the host of next year's Winter Games, and Beijing was chosen over Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the 2022 Winter Games after Oslo, Norway, dropped out of the race.

Hula said Calgary, Canada, could be a contender for the 2026 Winter Games, although a European city is a more probable choice. He said unlike the Summer Games, only cities in Asia, Europe and North America are contenders for Winter Games.

"The IOC is looking for cities which are willing and able to host the Olympics in a sustainable, economical, practical way and that was one of the things that made Salt Lake City such an appeal a generation ago," Hula said.

"Nothing, I think, has really changed in terms of infrastructure, facilities and accommodations and all of that," he said. "The IOC needed cities like that to host the Winter Olympic Games and there are not many like that in the world."

Contributing: Alex Cabrero

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