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In a surprise, IOC lines up French Alps to host 2030 Winter Olympics; Salt Lake City, a shoo-in, set for 2034 edition

Fraser Bullock (left) president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games and Salt Lake City's mayor, Erin Mendenhall, celebrated at City Hall.Francisco Kjolseth/Associated Press

Salt Lake City being preferred as a shoo-in to host the 2034 Winter Olympics was expected. The surprise was the IOC favoring the French Alps bid for the 2030 edition on Wednesday.

Aiming to finalize back-to-back Winter Games hosts next year, the International Olympic Committee executive board has decided to enter exclusive talks with Olympic officials in France and the United States for Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake was alone in the 2034 race to bring the games back to Utah, which hosted the 2002 Winter Games, and the American bid’s support from all levels of government up to President Joe Biden was praised Wednesday.

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“He would guarantee all the expenses,” said IOC member Karl Stoss, who chaired the Olympics panel assessing potential candidates, adding “and they stand really in a strong, strong status behind these games.”

A French bid uniting the snowy Alps region and the French Riviera resort Nice came together only in the past few months to compete with Sweden and Switzerland for the IOC’s support.

The IOC also has now pointed the Swiss bid toward the 2038 Olympics with “privileged dialogue” status.

By mapping out a Winter Olympics future for almost two decades, the next opportunity for Asia to host looks to be in 2042 — perhaps in Sapporo, Japan or even Saudi Arabia, which is creating the Trojena ski resort to stage the 2029 Asian Winter Games.

The IOC last month aimed to make a double award picking the 2030 and 2034 hosts together in July when about 100 members meet in Paris on the eve of the Summer Games.

It would be the fourth time France has hosted a Winter Olympics, after Chamonix in 1924, Grenoble in 1968 and Albertville in 1992.

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Seven-time Olympic champion sprinter Allyson Felix and seven-time golf major winner Inbee Park are candidates in elections at the Paris Games to represent their fellow athletes at the IOC.

The International Olympic Committee announced a list of 32 candidates for elections to be held during the July 26-Aug. 11 Games when about 10,500 athletes are eligible to vote.