By Paul Carter
Utah Ready with Olympics Due in One Year
PARK CITY, UTAH -- This Thursday begins the one year countdown to the
February 8, 2002 Opening Ceremonies to the 2002 Winter Olympics being held in
Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee will mark the date by
announcing the route of the Olympic torch and festivities will include a
performance by skater Michelle Kwan.
With one year to the games, most Olympic construction projects have already
been completed and the Organizing Committee is projecting that its $1.3
billion budget will be more than met by sponsorships and ticket sales. Over
47,000 people have volunteered to assist at the games.
The ready state of the Salt Lake Olympics has come from work over the past
decade. Some of the completed venues had been under construction well before
the 1995 announcement that Salt Lake would be the host city. At Utah Olympic
Park near Park City, one ski jump had already been completed and the bobsled
run was well underway to communicate to the International Olympic Committee
that Utah was ready and fully capable of hosting the games in 2002.
Compared to the 68 events of the Nagano games in 1998, Utah will present 78
events. For the first time in Olympics competition, spectators of the
biathlon and cross country skiing events will be able to view the entire
course. Downhill skiing competition will be held at a highly regarded
course at Snowbasin.
There have been some distractions for organizers. The speed skating oval,
located in Kearns, has had its concrete base redone because of imperfections.
However, those attempts at perfection, combined with the high altitude, are
expected to make the Utah Olympic ice oval the fastest speed skating arena in
The biggest distraction for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee was the
question raised as to just how Salt Lake City won its bid to host the
Olympics. Mitt Romney, an LDS businessman from Massachusetts, accepted the
challenge two years ago to resolve the issues stemming from International
Olympic Committee (IOC) members accepting gifts from bidding cities. Mr.
Romney has directed the efforts which have turned around the financial
condition and overall outlook for the Salt Lake games. Most comments about
the upcoming games now are positive.
Regarding the previous negative press, Jean-Claude Killy of the IOC and
Olympic gold medal skier from games in the 1960s, states, "It's fading but it
will never go away." However, he, too, is quick to turn positive on the
outlook for the games. "What we are aiming toward now is three glorious
weeks in Utah."
Mitt Romney also puts the efforts of thousands for the entire Salt Lake
Olympics in perspective. "The Olympics are a lot bigger than the mistakes of
a very small number of people. The Olympics in Salt Lake City will
overshadow the bid scandal."
With one year to go, all contingencies seem have been prepared for, even the
possibility that typically plentiful Wasatch Mountain snowfalls don't arrive.
"I'm not worried about the weather," says Romney. "We can make snow or we
can truck it it."
Salt Lake City ready, but scandal still clouds games
Canada News (AP) 3Feb01 S1