Here’s the ‘good story’ of Utah’s Olympic bid for IOC inspectors

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When the International Olympic Committee’s trio of technical experts inspect Utah’s proposed venues for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games this week as part of the bidding processthey will be shown how the facilities have continued to be used since the state last hosted the Olympics two decades ago, as well as a likely new competition site.

But no last-minute efforts are underway to spruce up the venues for the 2002 Winter Games before the three-day visit, which is due to begin Wednesday, said Colin Hilton, president and chief executive of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation which oversees the Utah Olympic Park near Park City, the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, and the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway.

“Honestly, (this is) our normal preparation for the change of seasons. We don’t do anything very different from what we normally do. We don’t ask any of the sites to put on a coat of paint before the visit,” said said Hilton, instead focusing on showcasing year-round training and recreational uses.

So IOC inspectors will see the Olympic Park training pool, where elite athletes train in the summer after throwing a big aerial jump, as well as tons of dirt piled up for a monster truck show in this which would again be the site. Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Games, Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah.

Supporters of hosting the Olympics in Utah for the second time hope these images will help differentiate their bid from other contenders for the 2030 Winter Games – Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; and Barcelona, ​​Spain and the nearby mountainous region of the Pyrenees — because the new application process encourages sustainable development.

Rice-Eccles Stadium is pictured in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 24, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

While Utah has never stopped hosting major competitions in skiing, speed skating and other winter sports, Hilton said the state’s Olympic heritage is best explained after the disappearance of snow and ice, when the facilities are even busier, thanks to innovations such as the swimming pool, plastic grass and airbags.

“That’s where a lot of the training and learning takes place for the athletes,” he said, adding that “the fact that these facilities are maintained at world-class levels and serve as a pipeline for athletes to develop is a really good story,” with wheels of bobsleigh rides and other public attractions that generate revenue needed for maintenance.

That’s “quite frankly, what 20 years since our last Games has taught us,” Hilton said. “We’re a living, breathing example of those uses that really help groups like the IOC point to, as I said, a living legacy of active uses of the facilities, not just for a one-time sporting event, but for daily uses within communities”.

The only new competition venue in the mix is ​​the Mayflower Mountain Resort being developed on the site of a longtail mine adjacent to Deer Valley, which hosted the freestyle moguls and jumps and alpine slalom events. in 2002.

With 40% more events to plan than in 2002, bidders still have to decide where certain alpine and freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions will take place. In addition to the new station which will open its doors next winter, the ski slopes built at the Olympic Park for training could also be used.

Some venues, like Rice-Eccles Stadium and what was then the Delta Center, have undergone major renovations and expansions since 2002. Others also have more to offer, like U. Student Housing which served as the Olympic Village for athletes who added a massive student center with a four-story climbing wall.

The approach taken by Utah’s bid for a $2.2 billion Winter Games plays into the Swiss-based IOC “new normal” a series of reforms to control the costs of bidding and hosting the Olympics that are the result of struggles in recent years to find cities willing to shoulder the massive expense.

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Dan Robinson, general manager of the Ken Garff Scholarship Club, works cleaning the seating area at the south end of the stadium at Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday, April 22, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Seven years ago, the IOC was left with just two options for the 2022 Winter Games, Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, after more popular picks like Stockholm pulled out of the running. Beijing, host of the 2008 Summer Games, was seen as the “safe choice” despite China’s lack of progress on human rights issues.

This time around, however, the field is more competitive.

The only upstart, Ukraine, had to set aside its aspirations to become the Alps of Eastern Europe because of the Russian invasion. All the other cities have already organized Olympic Games – Winter Games for Sapporo in 1972 and for Vancouver in 2010, and the 1992 Summer Games for Barcelona.

Olympic watchers point to Sapporo and Salt Lake City as top contenders.

“The momentum is definitely showing with the offers from Salt Lake City and Sapporo at this stage of the process,” insidethegames.biz senior reporter Michael Pavitt recently wroteciting infighting over the venue for Barcelona’s bid and being reluctant to hold a referendum on the organization again in Vancouver.

Sapporo, meanwhile, says 110,000 supporters have formed a group supporting its bid and has released a plan that only uses existing venues, including the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track used for the Olympics. winter of 1998 in Nagano, which the IOC had selected over Salt Lake City in an earlier bid.

Will the IOC choose venues for two Winter Games at the same time?

Pavitt said “it looks like the IOC might have a few strong candidates to choose from”, so the possibility of the IOC awarding the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games at the same time “certainly cannot be ruled out”, especially more than the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee remained open to Salt Lake City bids for 2034.

This is because Los Angeles has the 2028 Summer Games and the USOPC has been trying to find a way to cost-effectively hold back-to-back Olympics in the United States. When the Colorado Springs-based organization chose Salt Lake City over Denver in December 2018 to bid, it was for an unspecified Winter Games.

Mark Conrad, sports program director at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business in New York, said the IOC was likely eager to award two Winter Games at the same time after controversies surrounding Beijing.

These included a diplomatic boycott by the United States and other nations pushed by Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the leader of the 2002 Winter Games, to protest China’s treatment of religious minorities. and ethnic groups as well as political dissidents.

Conrad, who also sees Sapporo and Salt Lake City as favorites, told Deseret News that a double award would help the IOC avoid being in a situation for some time where members would be forced to decide “to hold your nose” and choose a problematic city like Beijing “just to have the Olympics”.

“They clearly must have been burned and embarrassed. Officials did not come,” he said, including from the United States, although the boycott did not affect athlete participation. “It was an armed camp. People didn’t like it, even without COVID. . . . Let’s call it what it is. China is a police state.

COVID-19, of course, caused the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games to be postponed by a year. The added expense associated with the delay, combined with lower revenue due to the pandemic still raging last summer, means the IOC “kinda owes” Japan, Conrad said.

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The renovated Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City pictured September 26, 2017 during its public debut.

Sapporo also rallied to host the delayed 2020 Summer Games marathon when concerns were raised about the extreme heat expected in Tokyo, another “good move in their favour” with the IOC, he said. stated, combined with a solid offering that “tries to be somewhat creative” using Nagano’s sliding track.

Conrad said in a double bid that the IOC could tap Sapporo for 2030 and Salt Lake City for 2034, though it could go either way. Although there is no timeline for a decision, USOPC leaders have suggested the field could be narrowed in the coming months, with a final IOC vote in 2023.

Sapporo could be first in line for the Winter Games because, Conrad said, “I think the memories of helping the IOC would be clearer.” Additionally, he said having the 2028 and 2030 Olympics in the same country could put off viewers as well as corporate sponsors, while “some might say the United States is taking it over.” .

Rewarding former Olympic hosts, especially two at the same time, could be a sign of things to come. While there has long been talk of one day rotating the Olympics between a handful of pre-selected cities, indeed the return to previous picks has a similar impact.

“I think we see maybe a future model,” Conrad said, “and that could be a very effective model.”

The bidding process is speeding up

Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games behind the bid, declined to comment on the competition.

“I’m only talking about us. I applaud any city that offers to host the Games because it takes a lot for a community to come together to do something so important,” said Bullock, who was Romney’s No. organization of Salt Lake for the 2002 Winter Games.

The IOC Technical Review Panel is expected to stay out of the spotlight during its three days in Utah. Other candidate cities for the Winter Games will also receive similar inspections, although the schedule has not been made public.

A delegation from Utah and the USOPC are scheduled to travel to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June for their first in-person bid meeting. A meeting scheduled for last December had to be held virtually due to the pandemic.

Bullock said Utah candidates will also travel to the 2026 Winter Games site, Milan-Cortina, Italy, in June, along with other candidate cities for a debriefing with Olympic organizers in Beijing. Plans for Candidate Cities to observe the 2022 Games in person were canceled at the last minute due to China’s strict COVID-19 policies.

“As we’ve been saying from the start, once the Games are over in Tokyo and Beijing, things really pick up speed. And we were prepared for it. We have done a tremendous job. And now we can show that work,” he said. “It was expected and we are ready for it.”


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