Salt Lake City wants to stage the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2034, and has received USOPC backing ©Getty Images

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has offered a "firm endorsement" of Salt Lake City's bid for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and insisted 2034 remains "the optimal time".

The US has long hoped 2002 host Salt Lake City can stage the Winter Games again in 2034, although stressed it would be prepared to stage the 2030 edition if required.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Bid Committee presented its plans at the USOPC Board of Directors meeting.

USOPC chair Gene Sykes said afterwards it had been agreed to endorse Salt Lake City's bid, and it is hoped it can enter targeted dialogue with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the near future.

Targeted dialogue is the second phase of the IOC's new bidding process for its events after non-committal continuous dialogue, where the relevant city or country can finalise its project with the Executive Board before approval at the Session.

"The Board was pleased to hear from them, and to give our firm endorsement of the candidature filed that will be shared with the IOC once the Utah project is invited into targeted dialogue with the IOC," he said.

"We don't know when that will happen precisely or the exact process for when a host decision will be made, but our hope is that the work of the Utah team and their incredibly detailed and thoughtful plan with great public support will be rewarded by the IOC in short order.

"After this discussion by our Board and on a motion duly made and seconded, the Board resolved that it fully endorses and supports the Salt Lake City-Utah Bid Committee's intention to offer to the IOC a formal preferred host submission."

USOPC chair Gene Sykes claimed
USOPC chair Gene Sykes claimed "there are not likely to be bids that look more attractive than the Salt Lake City-Utah bid" ©Getty Images

The IOC had been forced to delay its plans to award the 2030 edition of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics at next month's Session in Mumbai because of issues surrounding proposals from Sapporo in Japan and Vancouver in Canada.

Sweden, Switzerland and France have since emerged as contenders in a race that appears to be intensifying, with French officials visiting Lausanne last week to discuss Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes' and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur's bid.

It has provided hope Salt Lake City may not have to be called on for the 2030 edition, which would be American officials' preference to avoid a Winter Games in close proximity to Los Angeles 2028.

"We're watching this very carefully, and talking quite a bit to the IOC and everybody else we know to measure how far these other potential opportunities have advanced, and certainly there is more talk about them than the last time we spoke with you," Sykes said.

"There are not likely to be bids that look more attractive than the Salt Lake City-Utah bid for 2030 or 2034, but 2034 is the optimal time for the United States to host a Winter Games, so that is what we've suggested to the IOC is definitely our preference.

"We're in a position to work with them on 2030 if they need us but they are also working very hard to develop an alternative bid for 2030 from a very credible host."

Salt Lake City-Utah Bid Committee President Fraser Bullock, the chief operating officer for the 2002 edition of the Winter Olympic Games, expressed his gratitude to the USOPC for its support.

European interest in the 2030 edition of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics is growing, including from France ©Getty Images
European interest in the 2030 edition of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics is growing, including from France ©Getty Images

"We are very grateful to the Board of the USOPC for its partnership and now this endorsement of our bid," Bullock said.

"We have completed a significant amount of work on our bid and with this endorsement we are ready for targeted dialogue if we are so fortunate to receive that invitation.

"This is a significant milestone for us.

"We have a fantastic bid to offer the Olympic and Paralympic communities.

"We have incredible venues all in place.

"We have 100 per cent of the Government guarantees all completed at the Federal, State and local levels.

"We have just completed all of 10 Federal guarantees about two weeks ago.

"This was another big milestone for us.

"Most importantly, we have strong community support, including 82 per cent from the public and 100 per cent from the political leadership."

Climate change has sparked growing fears for the future of winter sport, and the IOC is considering a rotational pool of hosts system given the likely reduction in the number of suitable resorts for its Winter Olympics.