By Amy Tennery
NEW YORK - Geopolitical tension and inflation are among the "barriers" Salt Lake City faces in its bid to host the 2030 Winter Games, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Chair Susanne Lyons said on Thursday.
The U.S. is prepared to host back-to-back Games, with Los Angeles confirmed as the 2028 Summer Olympics host, Lyons said, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is likely to wait until the end of the year to make a call.
"There's some ill feelings to some extent about some of the geopolitical climate that surrounded the Beijing Games," Lyons told reporters.
"There's still some unhappiness at the IOC not directed towards the USOPC or the Salt Lake bid commission, but towards the U.S. government in terms of what they perceive to be a lack of support for the IOC."
A bipartisan Congressional panel last year accused U.S-based corporate sponsors of the Beijing Games of putting profits ahead of accusations of genocide in China, while U.S. government officials mounted a diplomatic boycott.
China has denied all rights abuses.
Lyons said that while a "package deal" of two Games could be appealing to sponsors, there were economic challenges to consider.
"It's very realistic to say that given the inflationary situation that's happening, the tough commercial markets we face, it certainly is more complicated for us to host the 2030 games and try to raise the money that is needed for both L.A. and for Salt Lake," said Lyons.
U.S. Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell said on Thursday that the central bank was committed to reining in 40-year-high inflation, with fast-rising prices of gas, food and many other items raising fears of a sharp economic downturn.
Lyons said the USOPC has received "very, very favorable signs" that they would be a top candidate for 2034, if the IOC chose another bid for 2030.
"What could potentially still make us a 2030 candidate really is dependent on the other bids and that's what I think the IOC now is waiting for," she said.
"Our bid is a bit ahead of the bids of Sapporo and Vancouver. I think they're waiting to see what other countries can offer."
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)