Winter Olympics 2022: could Park City, Salt Lake have beaten Beijing?
Could a Salt Lake City bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics have been successful against Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan?
A bid by Salt Lake City, which would have heavily involved the Park City area, would have been competitive as the number of interested cities dropped over time, leaving the Chinese capital and Almaty as the two possibilities. The International Olympic Committee on Friday awarded the Games in 2022 to Beijing. The city will be the first to host both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics after having hosted the Games in 2008.
Salt Lake City considered mounting a bid for the 2022 Olympics but the United States Olympic Committee opted against submitting an American city as a candidate for the Games that year. The committee instead wanted to focus on a bid for a Summer Olympics.
The Olympic region in Utah, though, studied the possibility of hosting another Games. An exploratory committee determined the region could host another Olympics and should pursue a bid once the United States Olympic Committee is ready to seek a Winter Olympics. The committee, which included representatives from the Park City area, indicated the Olympic region has the facilities and the infrastructure to host an Olympics.
Park City Councilman Andy Beerman was City Hall’s liaison to the exploratory committee. He said on Friday Salt Lake City "would have been highly competitive" in the bidding process for the Winter Olympics in 2022. He said Salt Lake City would have been the best choice after other cities ended their bids.
Beerman said the Olympic venues in Utah are closer together than they will be in and around Beijing, meaning that a Salt Lake Olympics would be friendlier to the environment. He also said Utah’s Olympic venues already exist while Beijing must still build some.
"China’s got a lot of work to do," Beerman said.
There has been chatter about another Olympics in Utah since the end of the Games in 2002, but the discussions became more formalized on the tenth anniversary. The exploratory committee researched the various parts of an Olympic bid before indicating that Salt Lake City could host another Games.
The Park City area was critical to the Games in 2002. Park City Mountain Resort hosted skiing and snowboarding competitions while Deer Valley Resort staged skiing and freestyle skiing contests. The Utah Olympic Park, where competitions in ski jumping and the sliding sports were held, was one of the busiest venues of the Games. Main Street, meanwhile, was turned into a pedestrian-only celebration zone during the Olympics, drawing large crowds of revelers.
Park City would also almost certainly be crucial to an Olympic bid in the future. The Utah Olympic Park would retain its status as a busy venue while it would be anticipated that PCMR and Deer Valley would also be competition venues. There has been talk that the Park City area could be tapped for some of the skiing and snowboarding events that have been added to the Olympic program since 2002.
Chris Robinson, who was a member of the board of trustees of the Olympic organizing committee in 2002 and is now a member of the Summit County Council, said Salt Lake City is seen as an Olympic city that overcame obstacles to put on a well-regarded, fiscally responsible Games.
"I think Salt Lake would compete well," Robinson said. "I just think there’s a lot of respect for Salt Lake."
Another figure involved in the Olympics in 2002, Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation CEO Colin Hilton, said Salt Lake City is ready, willing and able to host another Olympics. He said he hopes a bid is launched for the Olympics in 2026, acknowledging it is a United States Olympic Committee decision rather than one that will be made by officials in Utah.
"Hypothetically, absolutely yes," Hilton said about the prospects of Salt Lake City winning the bid had it been in the running against Beijing and Almaty. "We could have been the selected city for 2022 if given the chance."
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.