(ATR) The 2002 Winter Olympics host city remains “ready, willing and able” to bid for the 2030 or 2034 Games after submitting formal letters of interest to the IOC.
Salt Lake City wants to host in either 2030 or 2034. (Pixabay)
The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games met Tuesday for only the second time in its existence with a virtual gathering on Zoom. The pandemic took hold soon after the committee’s first meeting in late February.
However, the uncertainty still gripping the sporting world “hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm,” said Fraser Bullock, the group’s President and CEO and a holdover from 2002 when he was the Chief Operating Officer for the Salt Lake City organizing committee.
Cindy Crane, the committee chair, said two letters sent to IOC president Thomas Bach on October 30 – one from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the other from state, local and committee officials -- were meant “to formally in an informal process make sure that they knew that we are committed.”
Salt Lake City was named “America’s Choice” in December 2018 and previously bid for the Games in 1932, 1972, 1976 and 1998 before its successful campaign for the 2002 Olympics.
“While we have been quiet these last many months,” Crane said, “we have continued our dialogue with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee and it is now the time to begin moving forward to bring the Games back to Salt Lake City, Utah, in either 2030 or 2034.”
No Timelines For a Decision
Bach responded by letter on Nov. 3 that he was “looking forward to our excellent cooperation,” and said the dialogue would be led on the IOC side by the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games chaired by Octavian Morariu of Romania.
Sapporo, Japan, has been touted as the front-runner for 2030, while Vancouver, the 2010 host, and Barcelona and the Pyrenees Mountain region of Spain have also expressed interest.
Crane said that with the postponement of the Tokyo Games to next year and the 2022 Beijing Games on its heels, she expected the process for future bids to be delayed.
“There really are no timelines,” she said. “We are ready when they are ready.”
Crane added that there is no internal deadline to decide between 2030 and 2034. The Utah officials have been consulting with the Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee and are weighing the pluses and minuses in terms of logistics and revenue potential
Fraser Bullock (ATR)
“They’ve given us good input,” Bullock said. “Our top priority is to help them be successful. They have the games, we respect what they’re trying to do, and whether we’re ‘30 or ’34 we’ll be cheering them on.”
As part of Olympic Agenda 2020, Bullock was a member of the New Norm Working Group, which discussed ways to deliver the Games at a lower cost.
“Of course, we want to and need to stage spectacular Games,” said Bullock, whom Crane calls the committee’s “secret weapon.”
"We did that in 2002 and sent this brand and image and vision all around the world that was so helpful to us. We want to do that again, but we want it to do it in a different way with new angles and new elements to excite the world.”
He expects about 90 nations to attend compared to 77 in 2002 and said the economic impact should be about the same at $6 billion.
Just as they were in 2002, athletes and the athlete experience are the primary focus for Salt Lake City.
Olympic speedskater Catherine Raney and Paralympian Chris Waddell, co-chairs of the Utah Athletes’ Advisory Council, have spoken with Janet Evans, the Olympic gold medalist who is the Chief Athlete Officer for Los Angeles.
More than 160 athletes are native to Utah or call Utah home and could be engaged as athlete ambassadors.
Crane said the athletes’ council and the Host Venue Communities Committee led by Erin Mendenhall, mayor of Salt Lake City, and Andy Beerman, mayor of Park City, “are absolutely critical to our success” and would be “shaping the bid that we ultimately submit.”
The State of Sport
Park City snowboard parallel giant slalom course, the same used in 2002. (ATR)
All of the venues remain from the 2002 Games, with some improvements.
Utah, which calls itself “The State of Sport” has continued holding events throughout the pandemic and hopes to “ramp up” and host even more competitions while continuing to build Utah as a domestic and international sport powerhouse.
Governor Gary Herbert said he and the other officials stressed in their letter to Bach that Utah is ready for another appearance on the biggest stage in the world.
“There’s no place better prepared and I believe that to my soul,” he said, “or better capable of hosting a Winter Olympics than here in Utah and the Salt Lake area.”
He said a new Games would build upon that legacy and again show the world that Utah has a welcoming spirit.
“Some say that the Winter Olympic Games that we hosted here in 2002 were the best Winter Olympics ever,” said Herbert, who is retiring in about 45 days, “and it’s hard to deny that we’ve done a really good job. And because of that past work, that’s one of the reasons why we’re America’s choice today to bid.”
He added, “The state of sport is not just a slogan -- it’s a good one by the way -- but it really is a lifestyle.”
"A Nice Position to be in"
While the 2002 Games are remembered fondly, the run-up was marred by a bidding scandal.
Last month as its first official act, the committee’s Governing Board adopted operating principles, core principles, a code of conduct and ethics, a conflict of interest policy and a resolution around diversity and inclusion.
“We’re geared up, we’re ready to go,” said Crane, CEO of Enchant Energy and former CEO and president of Rocky Mountain Power. “We are in our starting gates and everyone is busting at the seams to break out of the gates and really get going.”
USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said it is “quite easy” for the USOPC to have a partner like Salt Lake City and the state of Utah when launching a bid “because there is nowhere in the world that is better positioned and better equipped to host a Winter Games than right here in Utah and Salt Lake.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t have to do the work, but it’s certainly a nice position to be in.”
Salt Lake City held the 2002 Games in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. (ATR)
However, Utah officials pointed out in their letter to Bach that an area requiring “deep collaboration” is risk mitigation.
Bullock said that within the context of Covid-19 and its impact on Tokyo, the Utah committee would seek to minimize risk so there is “no negative impact on our taxpayers.”
Also in the letter to Bach, the committee pointed out that a future Games has political support at all levels and an 80 percent approval rating from citizens. When international travel resumes, Utah hopes to send a small delegation to Lausanne to discuss a future bid in person.
“The Olympic Movement has great memories of the Olympic Winter Games Salt Lake City 2002 which took place during challenging times for the world,” Bach wrote. “The Games brought hope to us all, with athletes coming together in peace, delivering world class performances in world-class venues.”
Those Games, with the theme “Light the Fire Within,” took place in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Bullock said Tokyo now faces its own challenge.
“The outcome of that for us,” he said, “was that the Olympics played a special role in unifying the world under the umbrella of sport and bringing back hope and inspiration as we watched these athletes perform at extraordinary levels and inspire us with hope.
“I’m anticipating -- and I’m hopeful for Tokyo -- this is the opportunity coming out of the pandemic for the world to be united together, for the Olympians to inspire us with their great stories…I believe we’re going to see something incredibly special.”
Written by Karen Rosen
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