U.S. Winter Olympic Bid 'Complicated' Says LA 2028

(ATR) LA 2028 will not stand in way of a Winter Olympic bid, but must solve commercial rights before it proceeds.

(ATR) LA 2028 bid chairman Casey Wasserman signaled today that the Games Organizing Committee would not stand in the way of a United States Winter Olympics bid, although more information would be needed.

Wasserman, along with fellow LA 2028 bid leader Janet Evans, took questions from assembled media at the Team USA media summit in Park City, Utah. When asked if the LA organizing committee would support a United States Olympic Committee effort to bid for the Winter Games Wasserman said "2026 is complicated".

Challenges exist for a potential winter bid from timing and marketing perspectives. The USOC and LA 2028 are still working on an exclusive marketing arrangement for the 2028 Games since the event is now four years later. That arrangement would begin in earnest in January 2019.

"I think our approach has been the Olympic Games, whether they be summer or winter, is good for American athletes, and our intent is to be a good partner to the USOC and those athletes," Wasserman said. "There is going to be an open process for the IOC to see what the new process looks like for 2026. It is not for us to [tell] those cities if they want to bid."

Initial conversations about bidding for the 2026 Olympics will formally begin with the IOC next month. A yearlong "invitation phase" will work to allow cities to ask the IOC questions about the process and negotiate potential bids. It will be a formalized phase to an informal process that has been ongoing between cities and the IOC.

Cities so far expressly interested in bidding for the 2026 Games are in limbo or working to finalize government support. Innsbruck will hold a referendum next month; Sion awaits a Swiss federal government decision, expected next month, on whether that bid will move forward, and the Calgary bid exploration has stalled until after an upcoming mayoral election.

Amid the speculation three U.S. cities, Denver, Reno-Tahoe, and Salt Lake City, expressed interest in hosting the 2026 Olympics. For the first time publicly, USOC leaders Scott Blackmun and Larry Probst said the board of directors would address the topic next month.

"There are a myriad of issues most are commercial…but it is complicated and it has an effect on the USOC as much if not more than LA," Wasserman said. "Our approach is to take an open mind and let that process develop and when it is time to engage and let that happen.

"Whether a city is going to bid for 2026 or 2030 the city of Los Angeles is going to be supportive."

As Wasserman left the door open for discussions with another bid, he says the most pressing need for LA 2028 is to transition into an organizing committee. Over the next three months LA 2028 will stop becoming a bid committee and fully register as an OCOG.

The first steps for the OCOG will be to finalize the joint venture agreement with the USOC, which will not come into effect for 15 more months. Then the committee will have to address the advance funding given by the IOC. Of the $180 million fronted by the IOC, $160 million will go to Los Angeles youth sports.

"There are a lot of ways [the joint venture] could evolve," Wasserman said. "We are [also] at work on the youth sports work in LA with Recs and Parks and we want the benefits to start as soon as possible. That requires us to do it right with the city."

Written by Aaron Bauer with additional reporting by Ed Hula in Park City, Utah

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