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SALT LAKE CITY — Any plan to rotate the Winter Games among a limited number of cities won't come until after a decision is made on what may be a dual award for both 2030 and 2034, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.
"By a double allocation, we would win some time to then establish a sound rotation system, so that this then would follow the allocation for 2030," Bach told reporters during a virtual news conference after three days of IOC Executive Board meetings.
The timetable for choosing the host of the 2030 Winter Games was upended Tuesday after the IOC's Future Host Commission told the board more time was needed to study the impact of climate change on the competitions held every four years.
Now, instead of the Executive Board advancing one or more of the contenders — Salt Lake City; Sapporo, Japan; and Vancouver, Canada — to the contract negotiations stage of the new bid process by early next year, with a final vote on the host pushed to the fall of 2023, the decision has been delayed until July 2024 at the earliest.
The IOC may once again be looking to name hosts for both the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games at the same time, a prospect that had seemed likely since Sapporo and Salt Lake City were both seen as strong candidates. But Bach said earlier this year he wanted a decision on 2034 to wait until his term ends in three years.
Wednesday, however, he suggested the choice may not be left to his successor.
"I think it would be too late in '26 for a double award. Four years, even if you have extremely well-prepared cities and regions, four years is, I think, is pretty short," Bach said, referring to the amount of time organizers would have to get ready for the 2030 Winter Games.
The IOC president's comments come as Sapporo is struggling to deal with the fallout from an Olympic bribery scandal involving the 2020 Summer Games held last year in Tokyo, and Vancouver is scrambling to secure government backing after British Columbia declined to pledge more than $1 billion in funding.
Both bid cities are seen as benefiting from the delay. For Salt Lake City, a dual award is a "best-case scenario," since hosting in 2034 is financially preferable to bringing back an Olympics just 18 months after the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
All three cities in talks with the IOC to host in 2030 have hosted before: Salt Lake City, in 2002; Sapporo, in 1972; and Vancouver, in 2010. Each made presentations to the Future Host Commission last month in preparation for Tuesday's report to IOC leaders.
The IOC announced Tuesday that the bid process was shifting yet again. In a news release, the IOC spelled out that the commission will "further study the landscape of winter sport with a view to the election of the host of the Olympic Winter Games 2030 and beyond," including:
- Academic research showing a potential reduction in the number of climate-reliable hosts.
- Ongoing discussions by winter sports federations about adjustments already starting to be made to their event calendars and potential new competition formats.
- The idea of rotating the Olympic Winter Games within a pool of hosts.
- A proposal to ensure climate reliability by requiring hosts to show average minimum temperatures of below zero degrees Celsius for snow competition venues at the time of the Winter Games over a 10-year period.
The news release said a double award for 2030 and 2034 has also been discussed, "to create stability for winter sports and the Olympic Winter Games" but noted, "no conclusion was reached, since this needs more exploration."
The commission's chairman, Romania IOC member Octavian Morariu, suggested in a statement that a rapid response to climate change is now needed.
"The new, flexible approach to electing Olympic hosts was designed so the IOC could respond swiftly and effectively to ever-changing global circumstances, for the benefit of the athletes, all Olympic Games participants and the whole sports movement," Morariu said.