Sweden moves closer to launching bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics

Sweden is moving closer to a bid to host the Winter Olympics for the first time in what is shaping up to be a race for the 2030 Games with only one obvious candidate.

Nordic country advances to 'dialogue phase' with IOC after study shows desire to host

Members of the Swedish Olympic committee are photographed at a table together.
Members of the Swedish Olympic committee are seen above in February. Sweden is moving into the next phase of dialogue with the International Olympic Committee over hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics, the organization announced on Thursday. (Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

Sweden is moving closer to another bid to host the Winter Olympics for the first time in what's shaping up to be a race for the 2030 Games with only one obvious candidate.

Following a four-month feasibility study, Swedish sports officials said Thursday there is a desire for the Nordic country to stage the Olympics in Stockholm. It will be the ninth Winter Olympic bid for the nation that hosted the Summer Olympics in 1912.

"Our preliminary study shows that Sweden has the opportunity, know-how and will to arrange the Winter Games in 2030," Swedish Olympic Committee president Hans von Uthmann said.

Von Uthmann said there will now be a "dialogue phase" with the International Olympic Committee as the second stage of the bid process.

"The IOC has welcomed us to the next phase," he said.

The hosting rights have looked to be there for the taking for Sweden since its surprise entry in the 2030 picture this year as the IOC's other options fell away.

Last October, the B.C. government rejected an Indigenous-led proposal to bring the event back to the province, citing billions of dollars in costs.

Sapporo was among the favourites but support in Japan faded during the investigation, trials and convictions related to bribery in commercial deals for the Tokyo Olympics.

This week, the Japanese Olympic Committee said it would support a Sapporo bid only if it was pushed back to target the 2034 Winter Games.

Salt Lake City, a previous Olympic host city like Sapporo, also wants to host again but prefers 2034. That would avoid a back-to-back clash for organizers and sponsors in the United States with the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games.

Reliant on existing venues

Sweden suddenly found a clear and unexpected path to hosting the 2030 Olympics four years after the IOC inflicted a bruising loss on a Stockholm-Are bid for the 2026 Games, which were awarded to Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo.

That plan for 2026 has now been revived and relies even more heavily on existing sports venues with fewer construction projects. The IOC urges hosts to avoid potential white-elephant venues that typically go over budget.

"I think we learn from the past," Von Uthmann told The Associated Press. "A loss is also a good reason to learn and to develop. We've done that and we have an even better concept than we did last time, including not building any new arenas."

Further progress for the Stockholm bid can be made next week in the revamped and more flexible Olympic process to pick host cities.

The IOC executive board will meet from Tuesday to Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland, and can give Stockholm the status of preferred candidate. That would start a period of, in the Olympic jargon, "targeted dialogue" excluding rival bids.

Plan to rubber-stamp host at Paris 2024

Still, it is unclear if any rival exists that could block Sweden.

IOC officials have insisted in recent months they have other interested parties for 2030, though no clear projects emerged.

The original timetable to pick a host for 2030 — at the annual IOC meeting in Mumbai in October — was changed last December. The IOC later said the latest option for members to rubber-stamp a 2030 host is at a July 2024 meeting on the eve of the Paris Olympics.

Stockholm's bid should again use Are, a ski resort more than 500 kilometres to the north, and the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track across the Baltic Sea in Latvia.

"I think the success will be based on excellent organization, wonderful venues, and a very, very hospitable country," Von Uthmann said.

Both the Swedish and Latvian Olympic committees have been at odds with the IOC in the past year. They support the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes, teams and officials because of the war in Ukraine. The IOC wants sports governing bodies to approve some competitors with neutral status if they have not supported the war and do not have ties to the military or state security agencies.

With files from CBC Sports

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