The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, tasked with bringing the Winter Olympics back to the Beehive State in 2030, confirmed its newest supporter this week, Eileen Gu. The Chinese Olympian and host nation star of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, will take on a new role as athlete representative for the bid.
Gu’s role within the effort was confirmed by Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, who told the Associated Press she had been brought on as an “athlete representative.”
What that role entails remains somewhat of a mystery, but its significance is clear. It adds another high profile name to Salt Lake City’s growing list of endorsers, while also bringing in a star athlete from outside the United States.
The latter point is even more crucial given the country Gu represents - China. She was born in the United States, but opted to represent her mother’s native country during the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Tensions between the United States and China have been on the rise in recent years. However, Gu has managed to remain in the good graces of both countries despite her complex relationship with nationality.
Her selection as a representative of Salt Lake City’s bid certainly raises the profile of efforts to bring the wintry celebration of sport back to the city.
Fraser Bullock, President and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, spoke highly of that effort during a recent board meeting. He said, “we think we have the best technical bid in the world, of any potential Winter Games.”
“Everything’s in place. The people are in place. We have incredibly great support. So all of that bodes very well for us,” assured Bullock.
Gu’s arrival as an athlete representative also adds to the star-studded roster backing the bid, which includes Olympic gold medalists Nathan Chen, Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn, who sit on the committee’s Strategic Board.
Vonn is set to take on an even greater role within the bid this month by traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland as part of a five-member delegation scheduled to meet with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics is still in what the IOC calls the “dialogue phase.” Salt Lake City’s main rivals in the contest are Vancouver, Canada and Sapporo, Japan.
Spain is also bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics, but its bid has been bogged down by political controversy and naming disputes.
There is no explicit timeline for the bid process, however, one or more interested parties could be singled out by the IOC in December for advancement to the next phase based on reporting by Around the Rings.
A final decision on the matter could be communicated as early as the IOC session in Mumbai next year, which gives bid leaders plenty of time to define Gu’s role.