Courtesy of Steve Greenwood
FILE - Downtown Salt Lake City, as it appeared during the 2002 Olympics. With cities in seven countries now officially in the running for the 2026 Winter Games, backers of another Olympics for Salt Lake City are continuing to participate in the bid process in the hopes of hosting again in 2030.

SALT LAKE CITY — With cities in seven countries now officially in the running for the 2026 Winter Games, backers of another Olympics for Salt Lake City are continuing to participate in the bid process in the hopes of hosting again in 2030.

Tuesday's announcement by the International Olympic Committee listing the cities that have signed up to be considered candidates for 2026, a decision that will be made in October, also refers to the U.S. Olympic Committee's interest in 2030.

In the running for 2026 are Graz, Austria; Calgary, Canada; Cortina d'Ampezzo, Milan and Turin, Italy; Sapporo, Japan; Stockholm, Sweden; Sion, Switzerland; and Erzurum, Turkey.

But the IOC did not mention Salt Lake City or the other two American cities looking at bidding for the 2030 Winter Games, Denver and the Reno-Tahoe area, by name during the announcement.

That's not stopping Fraser Bullock, former chief operating officer of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and a leader of the effort to land another Olympics, from making the rounds.

"It's informal," Bullock said of his volunteer lobbying efforts, which include a five-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand, later this month to attend the annual SportAccord Convention that brings together Olympic sport officials from around the world.

Bullock said until it's clear when the IOC will choose the host city for the 2030 Winter Games, he and other supporters of another Olympics in Salt Lake City will keep up the campaign.

Earlier this year, Utah officials including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Gov. Gary Herbert backed another bid after a report by the state's Olympic Exploratory Committee found hosting again could cost less than it did in 2002.

The USOC made it clear in February there would not be a bid for 2026, because Los Angeles was awarded the 2028 Summer Games last year and has locked up domestic sponsorships through then.

When the IOC picked Los Angeles, it was part of an unusual dual award, made at the same time Paris was given the 2024 Summer Games. That's prompted speculation a dual award could happen again with the Winter Games.

The USOC met the March 31 deadline set by the IOC for joining the race for the 2026 Winter Games, but reportedly referred only to a possible 2030 bid in a letter that has not been made public.

The issue may be discussed at the USOC's next quarterly board meeting on April 18.

Bullock said he expects the IOC to treat the 2030 cities the same as those vying for 2026 for now. "It's only once they close the door to a dual award that they would change that position," he said.

The IOC is set to narrow the field for 2026 in October and name the final choice in September 2019. Through the fall, the Switzerland-based organization will engage in a new "dialogue stage" with contenders to determine their readiness.

IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said during a telephone conference call Tuesday with news media from around the world that "the great thing about the new procedure is that the dialogue can already start" with cities looking at 2030.

"We will talk to anyone," Dubi said.

Without naming cities outside the United States, Dubi told reporters that while the IOC has only heard from the United States about 2030, "What I can definitely tell you is that there is a tremendous interest for 2030 and beyond."

Lillehammer, Norway, host of the 1994 Winter Olympics, ruled out a 2026 bid just days ago and is among the cities eyeing 2030. Some of the 2026 contenders may also end up going for the next Winter Games if they are eliminated by the IOC.

Dubi said IOC's focus is 2026 when asked whether there could be a dual award.

"Whether there is a discussion regarding a double allocation, it is not the case," he said. "However, it is interesting that already at this stage we have cities saying, 'OK, we are not in for '26, but 2030, we are really interested in.'"

The IOC plans some meetings with the American cities looking at 2030, Dubi said.

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"What we expect from the USOC is to open the door to discuss between the IOC and those cities interested because what is really important for them will be at some point to make a choice," he said, through a bid process.

Bullock said he hopes that a decision is made by the USOC no later than Sept. 1 so that Salt Lake City can get going on a more formal bid.

"If a city is a serious candidate for the next step in the candidature process, then there's a lot of work that has to be done," he said. "We would rather know we are the city before we invest the time and effort in those preparations."