Nobody wants the 2030 Winter Games

Nobody wants the 2030 Winter Games

Who wants to host the 2030 Winter Games? Time is running out, but no one is dying. High costs are a deterrent, however frugal the IOC may claim to be these days.

Mark Van Drell

The opening ceremony has been scheduled: the 26th Winter Games will start today after seven years. The burning question is: in which country will the best skiers and snowboarders compete for medals in 2030?

Because of the time-consuming construction projects, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) usually announces the host country seven years in advance, and sometimes even earlier. For example, the city of Brisbane in Australia has been preparing for the 2032 Summer Games since 2021. But no one is eager for the 2030 Winter Games: not in Scandinavia, not in the Alpine countries, not in northern countries like Japan and Canada. The most serious candidate, the US Salt Lake City, prefers 2034.

Last December, the International Olympic Committee decided to officially postpone the allocation due to climate change. Steady global warming makes many traditional winter sports areas unsuitable for the Winter Games. The plan is to rotate the Snow and Ice Championships, first held in 99 years, through a limited number of sites that meet minimum conditions: They must be freezing in February.

local protest

The International Olympic Committee has given little publicity to a more pressing problem: There is little enthusiasm for joining the organizers’ exclusive group. In recent months it has become increasingly clear that it will be difficult to find a successor to Milan / Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Italian city duo that will stage the Winter Games in 2026. Not because of a lack of cold, but because of the growing aversion of many locals to the costly sporting event.

This competition is in Sapporo, Japan, for example, the northern city that hosted the Winter Games in 1972 and was initially considered the favorite for 2030. A recent poll by the local newspaper Hokkaido Chimbum It appears that two thirds of the population feel nothing about the Olympic festival.

Many respondents believe that money could be better spent. Nearly a quarter feel less about the Games because of the pervasive corruption scandal surrounding the Tokyo Summer Games in 2021. Japanese companies have paid bribes for the lucrative right to operate Olympic venues.

Skating rink in Beijing. It is reported that China has allocated 10 billion euros for the development of winter sports areas.AFP photo

Vancouver, Canada, which hosted the Winter Games in 2010, is also not happy with the arrival of thousands of winter sports fans. Although there was enthusiasm in the national government, the British Columbia provincial government turned against the candidacy in October. The financial risks are very high: the costs can run into several billion euros and the Canadian government does not want to be insured.

In Europe, locals have been turning against the Winter Games for some time. The list of candidates who have dropped out in the past decade is long and includes cities such as Lillehammer, Stockholm, Munich and Krakow. St. Moritz and Oslo. For 2030, Barcelona (together with the Pyrenees) withdrew early. The candidacy of Chamonix, the first host of the Winter Games in 1924, was soon contradicted by the mayor. He said there was no interest.

The unpopularity of the Winter Games cannot be seen separately from IOC policy. Choosing Sochi (2014), Pyeongchang (2018) and Beijing (2022) in particular had devastating consequences. Russia, South Korea and China have invested unprecedented amounts of money in developing winter sports areas: Sochi would have cost 40 billion euros, estimates for Pyeongchang and Beijing fluctuate at around 10 billion, with ups and downs.

Sustainability first

These amounts didn’t just scare off potential host cities. It has led to a stunning change of policy by the International Olympic Committee, the so-called Agenda 2020. The intention is no longer for countries to invest as much as possible in Olympic venues; Responsible use of existing accommodation and sustainability is paramount.

That it is dangerous, it became clear from the recent announcement that Olympic skiing in 2026 cannot take place at the proposed site of Basilja de Binet. The costs of building a roof over the ice rink will be very high, and could reach 75 million euros. Irresponsible, the International Olympic Committee ruled. Italian regulators should look for a cheaper place. It might be Turin, the city where skating took place in 2006 in the converted Congress Hall.

The question is whether the IOC’s economy will make the Winter Games popular again among residents of traditional winter sports European countries. It is always cheaper to let another country pay for the sixteen day event. It may help if, at the IOC’s insistence, Salt Lake City is ready to welcome its winter sports enthusiasts by 2030, rather than four years later.

In that city in the Rocky Mountains, large-scale construction is not necessary, and the sites for the 2002 Winter Games are usable. There is a lot of support among residents in Utah, possibly because there is no tax money going to the organization. In America, business has carried the Olympic Games since the commercial success of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.

One issue does not require a solution. The 2026 World Cup will be held in America (together with Canada and Mexico), and the Summer Games will also take place two years later, in Los Angeles. To avoid fierce competition for much-needed sponsors, Salt Lake City would prefer 2034. But the IOC doesn’t seem to have the luxury of a four-year delay right now.

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