As Olympic Torch arrives in Turin, Utahns relive memories of 2002
This Friday, all eyes will turn to Turin, Italy, as Salt Lake’s successor ignites its own Olympic cauldron.
The moment will be bittersweet for Utahns, bitter because our turn has come and gone, sweet because of the memories that resurface whenever and wherever those triumphant Olympic chords are played.
On June 19, 1999, when Turin won the bid to host the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in a runoff vote against Sion, Switzerland, Salt Lake was frantically trying to finalize its own game plan for the 2002 Games. The bid-city scandal was still simmering and the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, that could have extinguished our own Olympic flame, had not yet undermined our hopes for global peace.
It was a different world, but like Salt Lake and Park City, the citizens of Turin made a commitment to invest in the Herculean task of hosting the Olympic Games. In the intervening years, they have met and surmounted a series of unexpected obstacles in an effort to fulfill that commitment. And now their day has come. All of Italy’s building, planning and training will be tested on the world stage when the curtain goes up on Friday.
Even though the 2002 Winter Games are behind us, the shared memories of being an Olympic host city still reverberate in Park City. When faced with challenges, Parkites draw on the confidence they gained during 2002 and take great pride in the reputation the city earned during those stunningly successful events.
Salt Lake’s Games also made several lasting contributions to the Olympic movement that will be in evidence during the next two weeks in Italy. Among them, more transparency at the International Olympic Committee level, tougher standards regarding the use of performance enhancing substances and the inclusion of women’s bobsled, luge and skeleton events.
Perhaps most important of all, though, the Salt Lake Olympics helped the world regain its faith in the ability of nations from all over the world to come together in peace.
The United States, and Park City in particular, have sent their best winter athletes to compete in Turin. We wish each of them a safe and successful journey. We also wish the people of Turin an equal measure of international support and great civic pride that we experienced in 2002. Let the Games begin.
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