(ATR) Denver, Colorado is the latest city to launch an exploratory committee to look into the possibility of hosting a Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The committee, appointed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, will be led by Rob Cohen, a Denver-based chairman and CEO of the IMA Financial Group. It is comprised of civic and community leaders from around Colorado.
"The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games present the opportunity for our community to evaluate the economic and social costs and benefits of bringing world-class athletes from around the world to our city, region and state in the spirit of competition, friendship and fair play," Hancock said in a statement.
"Colorado is already a world-class destination for winter sports. This exploratory committee will determine if it is in Denver's and the state's best interests to pursue a bid, and whether there is strong community-based support for the effort."
Support for a potential bid is paramount for Denver, which doesn’t want a repeat from the early 1970's when the city was awarded the right to host the 1976 Winter Games only to withdraw after a public referendum rejected the Games.
The United States Olympic Committee in September named Denver, Salt Lake City and Reno-Tahoe as the three cities showing interest in hosting the Winter Games.
Salt Lake City, host of the 2002 Winter Games, formed an exploratory committee in October and is expected to decide by Feb. 1 whether a bid for either 2026 or 2030 is feasible.
The Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition is a coalition of civic and sport leaders throughout Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area that has worked since 2003 to prepare for a potential Olympic bid. The group’s CEO Jon Killoran told Around the Rings last month that Reno-Tahoe has no preference for a 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympic bid.
The announcement of the Denver exploratory committee formation does not mention a specific Winter Games.
USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said earlier this month that it is more likely that a U.S. bid for the Winter Olympics will come for the 2030 Games rather than the 2026 edition.
The IOC deadline for officially entering the 2026 bidding is March 31, 2018. Under new guidelines from the IOC, this dialogue stage allows interested cities to explore the benefits and opportunities of hosting the Games without submitting - and funding - an official bid.
Sion, Switzerland has the support of both the Swiss Olympic Committee and the federal government though the bid must still get final approval from all stakeholders through an arduous process that could last until late next year.
Another possible European bid could be Stockholm, but so far the Swedish Olympic Committee and 2026 bid organizers have failed to get the local and national governments to sign off on it.
A potential bid by 1988 Winter Olympics host city Calgary is at a similar stage to Stockholm, with government support at all levels still needed.
The 1972 host city of Sapporo and the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) announced in November that they will enter the IOC’s dialogue stage for 2026 ahead of the March 31 deadline. Sapporo’s bid is the only one to be confirmed by its National Olympic Committee and not require additional approvals by stakeholders.
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Written by Gerard Farek
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