The Olympic flame belongs in Utah again — perhaps 2022
March 1, 2006
It is admittedly awkward to be talking about Utah bidding for another Winter Olympics just four years after the stunning 2002 Games but our response to the chatter: Absolutely go for a second Games.
The 2002 Games stand as one of Park City and Summit County’s greatest moments not as important as the reconstruction of the city after the devastating 1898 fire but certainly trumping most anything since.
Logistically, they unfolded almost perfectly and the spirit of Utahns seemed to be exceptional compared to other Winter Olympic locales, including Turin, Italy.
With the enormous corporate support from America that essentially funds the International Olympic Committee, it is guaranteed that the Olympics will rotate through the United States regularly.
Utah is positioned well to host another Winter Olympics, potentially the next staged in the U.S. Its facilities, if they are kept in good shape, will still be the best in the nation when the U.S. is ready to bid on another Winter Games.
And more so, Utah is on a short list of potential domestic Winter Olympic locations.
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The IOC since 1994, when the village of Lillehammer, Norway, hosted the Winter Games, has picked places that combine a big city with outlying mountainous venues. That trend is sensible given the growth of the Winter Olympics in the last 20 years and it favors Utah.
In America, there are a few places that provide a big city in proximity to the mountains and the others, like Denver and Reno, Nev., do not possess the infrastructure needed for a Winter Olympics, including ski jumps and a bobsled track.
Spending the millions of dollars needed to build the jumps and a track is nonsensical for those cities given that Utah is having enough issues keeping its facilities in the black.
So perhaps in the next five years or so, the Olympic boosters will start drumming up support for a bid for the 2022 Games, likely the earliest year that Utah would be considered. Obviously, the dubious practices of the previous bid committee must be left in the 1990s and the taxpayers must be protected through a second Olympics.
The people who remember the festivities on Main Street, the stirring athletic performances and the camaraderie that reigned here for 17 days will be the ones leading Utah’s next Olympic effort.