An Olympic bid may be fast, bumpy run
The Park Record editorial, Feb. 11-14, 2017
The Winter Olympics planned in February of 2026 seem to be distant at this point, like looking at a giant-slalom skier at the top of the run and realizing the athlete must navigate a series of turns before reaching the finish line.
But 2019, the year the International Olympic Committee is expected to award the Olympics of 2026, does not seem so distant. More like seeing a mogul skier at the top of a course and awaiting the fast, bumpy descent toward glory.
As the athletes and the wider Olympic movement mark the one-year countdown to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, it should be expected there will be increasing talk about Salt Lake City mounting a bid to host another Olympics, perhaps in hopes of winning the 2026 Games.
The idea started before the flame was extinguished at the end of the highly successful Games in 2002, which were hosted by Salt Lake City and stretched throughout the region. The Park City area was crucial to the Games 15 years ago as the site of upward of half of the competitions.
Those who may someday lead an Olympic effort have repeatedly affirmed that Salt Lake City and, as an important partner, Park City are prepared to mount a bid, likely as early as the 2026 Games. They say the athletic venues remain world class, the transportation system has been further improved since 2002 and the winter-sports spirit is high in the state. They are only waiting for U.S. Olympic officials to determine when the nation will seek another Winter Games.
An Olympics, as Park City understands, offers extraordinary opportunities for civic pride, the economy and infrastructure improvements. A Games, though, also poses extraordinary challenges — financial, political and logistical — during the years of planning and then the execution of the event itself.
The United States Olympic Committee has not decided whether it will pursue the Winter Olympics in 2026, opting to first focus on a bid for a Summer Games. If the nation does seek the 2026 Games, Salt Lake City would be the clear frontrunner to become the American bid city as well as a formidable candidate as the International Olympic Committee makes its selection.
Park City, as a community, should support the efforts, as it did when the Games in 2002 were secured. The Olympics certainly changed the community. Fifteen years later, though, the benefits of the Games are of far more significance than any harm the event caused.
The 2026 starting gate may be closer than many realize.
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