Attention Denver: Don’t Worry About A 2026 Winter Olympic Bid

<p>(AP Photo/<span data-scayt-word="Vadim" data-scayt-lang="en_US">Vadim</span>&nbsp;<span data-scayt-word="Ghirda" data-scayt-lang="en_US">Ghirda</span>)</p>
<p>Members of the United States team wave during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. </p>
Photo: 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Team USA
Members of the United States team wave during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.

Updated 11:15 a.m. -- If the U.S. Olympic Committee is going to bid for the Winter Games soon, it will be a bid for 2030, not 2026.

USOC Chairman Larry Probst ruled out the possibility of bringing the Olympics to Salt Lake City, Denver or Reno two years before the Summer Games return to the United States, in Los Angeles.

"It would make things extremely complicated from a financial standpoint with Los Angeles," Probst said Friday.

Colorado was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics and said “no thanks” after major opposition. Rob Cohen leads a group that wants Colorado to bid for the games again, aiming either for 2026 or 2030, and is collecting feedback on the idea. Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he sees both sides of the debate, but for him there's little downside to bringing the Olympics to the Centennial State.

There's intense interest on all sides of the issue. The organizers behind Denver and Colorado’s exploratory process said Friday in a statement they had been deluged with reporters seeking comment. Their response to the news is that the groundwork they are doing was "compressed" by the possible 2026 timeline. Noe said they plan to forge ahead "regardless of whether that is in 2026, 2030 or 2034."

"The Community and Civic Engagement Subcommittee is in the midst of a robust community engagement process, and that will continue as planned," the organization said.

When a U.S. city wins the right to host, the USOC has to rework all its marketing arrangements so the city will be the prime beneficiary of the deals. It's complex, and tearing up the existing deal with Los Angeles to add a 2026 host into the mix is considered unworkable.

The USOC has always preferred 2030, but was keeping its doors open for 2026 in case of a repeat of the most recent Summer Games process. The IOC was supposed to award only the 2024 Olympics last September. But after a handful of bids cratered and only two remained — Paris and Los Angeles — the IOC took the unprecedented step of awarding both 2024 and 2028.

If the IOC indicates it wants a similar process with 2026 and 2030, Probst said "we are prepared to participate in those discussions."

Earlier this week, Salt Lake City said it would try to become the American candidate for a 2030 bid. It would be the favorite in a contest that could also include Denver and Reno, Nevada.

Another complicating factor with 2026 is that the United States could be preparing to host a World Cup. The U.S., Canada and Mexico are involved in a joint bid for 2026, to be awarded in June.