Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Utah's Senator Bennett Defends 2002 Olympics Costs
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- According to a recent report the federal
government will pay nearly half of the $2.7 billion cost of hosting
the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics. Unlike other countries where
the government hosts the games, the cost for the eight times that the
United States has hosted the Olympics since 1904, has fallen to the
cities where the games are held.
The costs of the projects have launched a bitter political tiff
between Senators Bob Bennett and John McCain. Sen.
McCain, (R-Ariz.) charged that Sen.Bennett, (R-Utah) used soft-money to
support projects which cost the government $2.2 million. McCain
has been unable to prove his allegations. Complaining that a good portion
of the request for funding has been done piecemeal, McCain said,
"They just stuck it in there, it's outrageous and it's got to
With the cost escalating for hosting the games, Sen. McCain and U.S.
Rep. John Dingell have asked a government agency to investigate the
expenditures. "I think it is a disgrace," Mc Cain
said. A quarter of the federal money spent to fund the 1984 Olympics went to
infrastructure projects, mass transit and capital improvements.
"But this is a logical extension of what you get when you start
pork-barrel spending," McCain added.
Others say that the money funded by the government is justified
because it brings people together from different countries.
Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee wrote a
letter to the GAO in August and stated: "Recognizing that our
government spends billions of dollars to maintain wartime capability,
it is entirely appropriate to invest several hundred millions to
Utah officials argue that the greatest expense is the mass transit
system that is needed to accommodate people in downtown Salt Lake
City and the state's freeway I-15. Many agree that the need for
renovation existed before the Olympics and the money would have been
spent regardless. Yet, a government report says that it would
be difficult to determine the government's support of funding if the
city did not host the games.
"There is absolutely no question that the money would have been
spent even if the Olympics had not come to Salt Lake City," said Sen.
Bennett, in a Senate floor session. "It may not have been
spent as wisely or as prudently if we had not had the pressure of the
"Somewhere along the line, someone lost track of what happens to
all of this," Bennett said. If Congress decides not to help
fund the cost to the city, Bennett said, "then no American City will ever
host the Olympic games again because no American city can ever afford the
kind of things that are required."
Vaulting Costs: Olympic Games Cost U.S. Taxpayers More Than Ever
ABC News 25Sep00 T2
By Julia Campbell