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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 29, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 29Sep00

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 stop."

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 promote peace."

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 Olympics."

"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


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