Denver and Salt Lake Eyeing 2026 Winter Olympics

Jake Rubnitz | | OlympicsOlympics
Fireworks explode from the roof of City and County Building as The Olympic Torch Relay reaches the (Photo: Rick Egan 2.7.2002)

There is an outside shot that the U.S. could host two Olympic games within the next 11 years. Groups in both Salt Lake City and Denver are considering putting together bids for the 2026 Winter games, just two years before the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. With the IOC’s new emphasis on host cities that have existing infrastructure and the ability to run a cost effective event has opened the door for both cities. No country has hosted back to back games since world war two, but the hope is that the IOC is ready to change and will choose the best option over the fair one. 

Salt Lake City, of course, hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and has kept the infrastructure built for those games in great shape. It is the current home of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams and is home to the main U.S. speed skating and Cross-Country skiing training facilities. This makes Salt Lake a very practical and attractive potential host.

Denver has always been an appealing host for the winter Olympics (Photo: CU Denver)

Denver is a city that most can’t believe has never hosted a Winter Games. It is the only city to be awarded the Olympics, only to decide against hosting due to public outcry (1976 winter games). Denver is a larger city than Salt Lake and has comparable infrastructure within the city. It also is just 45 minutes north of the USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs.  Denver’s main drawbacks are that the closest mountain is about an hour west of the city and speedskating, ski jumping, and sledding centers would all need to be built.

The T-Mobile arena with Las Vegas in the Background (Photo: Tom Donoghue)

Additionally, we reported earlier this summer about a potential Reno-Tahoe-Vegas bid for 2030. There has been no news on how the group pushing that bid will react. Vegas is more developed and newer than both Denver and Salt Lake as far as stadium infrastructure, but the Reno-Tahoe-Vegas bid is far more logistically challenged. Ultimately the USOC will evaluate all potential bids and decide which city to enter and whether they should go for 2026 or 2030.

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