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Figure skating star Nathan Chen has expressed his desire for the Winter Games to be brought back to his hometown, Salt Lake City.
Utah’s capital, which hosted the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, is in contention for staging the Games in either 2030 or 2034 following the selection by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
While USOPC Chair Susanne Lyons had earlier stated that it is more viable for Salt Lake City to host the 2034 Olympics, Chen expressed optimism that the city would be able to host as soon as 2030.
Chen, whose record-setting performance at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics turned him into a global star, is a member of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that is bidding to host the multi-sport event.
“Absolutely, we certainly have the capability of doing it in either 2030 or 2034,” the 23-year-old Olympic gold medalist told Inside the Games.
Chen added that it was the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics that “gave me as a young 3-year-old kid the motivation, drive and inspiration to want to go to an Olympics myself.”
According to Chen, local athletes can have the same experience if the Salt Lake City bid proves successful.
“Having an Olympics in a hometown of a lot of young athletes can be very inspiring so I think having an opportunity to bring it back to Salt Lake City could be huge,” he was quoted as saying.
Chen argued that Utah is a viable venue because of its “great infrastructure already built in, and 2002 is something that spurred me on to get into the Olympics and clearly has a very large community aspect.”
The International Olympic Committee has postponed its previous schedule to deliberate on the official Winter Games site, giving more time for other bidders to make their case.
Previous Winter Games hosts, Sapporo, Japan, and Vancouver, Canada, have previously expressed interest in hosting.
In a statement, bid committee President and CEO Fraser Bullock touted Utah’s readiness for either the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games.
“I love Nathan’s enthusiasm for welcoming the Games back to Utah,” Bullock said. “His Olympic story is one of the best ever. The desire to host the Games sooner rather than later is very understandable.”
However, Bullock did note that “hosting in 2034 is better from an economic point of view.”
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