Mitt Romney confident in Olympic bid, saying ‘we’ll get them again’ during Park City stop |

Mitt Romney confident in Olympic bid, saying ‘we’ll get them again’ during Park City stop

Leader of 2002 organizing committee is unsure which upcoming Games makes best sense for state

Sen. Mitt Romney, who led the organizing committee that put on the 2002 Winter Olympics, on Saturday made a prediction many others have offered recently: The state will host another Games someday.

But Romney, visiting Park City as the community celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the Games of 2002, said in comments to reporters it is not clear which year the Olympics will return. Romney described that the infrastructure for a Games remains intact and the Olympics of 2002 ended well.

“I think it’s very likely that we get to host another Olympics, in part because the venues are built, we had a great track record and the most successful Olympic Winter Games in history. And we did it at the lowest cost of any Olympics, summer or winter, over the last at least 16 Olympic Games,” Romney said. “So, yeah, we’ll get them again.”

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee in late 2018 selected Salt Lake City as the nation’s bid city for a future Games. The Park City area is crucial to the capital city’s bid, as was the case in the era of the earlier Winter Olympics. Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park are identified as major competition venues. The Park City area would also be important to the overall transportation, security and celebration planning.

Discussions among the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, which is the organization leading the bid, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee are expected to intensify in the period after the Winter Olympics in Beijing close. It is almost certain the Winter Olympics of 2030 will be the next Games awarded by the Lausanne, Switzerland-based organization, but it is not yet clear whether Salt Lake City is better positioned for those Games or a later event. A timeline for a decision about the host for 2030 is also unclear.

“Whether we get them in 2030, or 2034, or 2038, that’s something which the international politics will determine because there are a lot of nations that would like Olympic Winter Games, Canada being one of them. But are they coming back to Utah someday? Absolutely,” he said.

Romney, a Republican who also served as the governor of Massachusetts and was the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, has longtime ties to Park City and was held in high regard during the Olympic era of 2002 as the figure who led the organizing committee out of a bribery scandal and toward the successful Games. He is seen as having some of the best insight in the state regarding the organizational aspects of an Olympics even though he has not had a visibly important role to date in the work to secure a second Games.

Romney spent time in the Main Street core on Saturday at various spots where the anniversary celebration was underway. He visited the Team USA Hospitality House along Main Street and greeted the crowds on Swede Alley, where sports demonstrations, Olympic pin trading, a Games broadcast and other activities anchored the celebration. He greeted people who were involved in some fashion in the Winter Olympics in 2002, some wearing attire from those Games, as well as youngsters who were born years after the Games and who have no knowledge of the critical role he played 20 years ago.

“There’s something about sport which brings people together. It pulls a community together. We need that, frankly, in our entire country. And having the Games in the United States, not Beijing, but in the United States would be a huge positive statement, I think, for the entire world and country,” he said, adding, “It cements us as the place where Olympic winter sports have to be occurring.”

Romney also reminisced about memories from 2002, recalling the sporting events and the celebration zone in Park City.

“What I remember is that people came out in record numbers. They were welcoming, opening homes for visitors to come spend time with them. We were in the streets, of course,” he said. “Main Street was just covered with people celebrating. And the athletes were spectacular, and our field of play — the quality of our sporting sites — was unparalleled.”

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