Olympics-Salt Lake City poised for 2034 Olympics award

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Salt Lake City is all but guaranteed to be awarded the 2034 Winter Olympics later this year and officials said its robust infrastructure and enthusiastic public support have paved the way.

Utah's capital city hosted the Games back in 2002 and International Olympic Committee representatives recently toured the city and heard plans for its "no-build" Games.

No other cities are in the running for the 2034 Games. Salt Lake City 2034 and France 2030 were picked as preferred hosts for the Winter Olympics in November.

"They got the opportunity to see our venues and how they are still thriving," Catherine Raney-Norman, chair of the Salt Lake City - Utah Committee for the Games, told Reuters in an interview.

"They left excited with what they had seen. It was extremely positive."

While other cities have soured on the idea of hosting an Olympics for fears of cost overruns that is not the case in Salt Lake City, where the legacy of the 2002 Games endures.

"Our polling has shown that we have over 80% public support," said Raney-Norman, a four-time Olympic speed skater.

"That's amazing. And we've had that consistently for the past 20 years."

Ensuring the public remains on board is one of the challenges that comes with having a 10-year leadup to the opening ceremony.

"Our challenge is making sure we maintain that enthusiasm and also making sure we have intentional impact on our community," she said.

"We don't have to build buildings so our headline in 2034 is going to be based on our impact in the community more so than standing up a new building."

The Winter Olympics have grown by about 40% since Salt Lake City hosted them last as more sports and disciplines have been added but the city can handle the additional action, Raney-Norman said.

"We know that within our venues and within our technical side that we can execute on those events," she said.

"We're embracing it, we're excited about it."

New events like big air could be held at a temporary downtown venue while the University of Utah will serve as the athlete village, she said.

Salt Lake City initially wanted to bid for the 2030 Games but dropped plans due to it being too close to the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The IOC is expected to formally name the city as host on July 24.

Hosting an Olympics within 10 years of LA28 is a "generational opportunity" for the United States and Raney-Norman said dialogue is already happening between the organising committees.

"As we look to a future award and Salt Lake hopefully officially being named the host for 2034, we see opportunities and synergies as we continue to collaborate," she said.

"This is an opportunity to elevate the Olympic and Paralympic movement in the United States and that requires collaboration between the two groups."

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in New York; Editing by Toby Davis)

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