Committee explores possibility of second Winter Olympics in Salt Lake

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The 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City have left a legacy throughout the state for more than 10 years.

For the next four months, an exploratory committee will assess criteria such as budget, transportation, environment and venues to determine the plausibility of hosting the Winter Olympics a second time. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the committee will most likely recommend a pursuit of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

“Ten years ago, Utah ‘Lit the Fire Within,’ and today that fire still burns bright,” Herbert said in a news release. “This talented committee will thoughtfully and carefully consider whether we should officially submit Salt Lake City to be considered to host future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

Should Salt Lake choose to bid for the host city of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the exploratory committee will submit its report during May and November of this year to the U.S. Olympic Committee. This committee will then, before Jan. 1, 2013, decide which U.S. city it wishes to partner with for the International Olympic Committee bid. The IOC executive board will then determine in mid-2014 which of the applicant cities will become candidate cities. The host city will then be selected in July 2015.

It has been a decade since the games, but they continue to keep the local economy bolstered. Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release the state economy was boosted by $4.8 billion, including 35,000 job years of employment and $1.8 billion in earnings for Utah workers.

“The 2002 Winter Olympic Games are the gift that keep on giving,” Beattie said.

Monetary values don’t show the worth of the games to Utah citizens. Becky Johnson of Sandy had the opportunity to play in the Utah Symphony for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. She said that at the time, downtown Salt Lake was not as clean as it is now. She thinks the Olympics are to thank for that.

“It’s always nice to have people look at your city and say it’s a great place,” Johnson said.

Johnson feels the city is more prepared now than it was in 2002 and can easily host another Winter Olympics.

“We could do better than we did with the last one,” Johnson said.

In 2015, the UTA Trax line will be expanded to transport commuters farther across the valley, particularly East-West and to the airport, in the FrontLines 2015 project. The Trax line will also run from Ogden to Provo. The UTA system has undergone renovations since 2002 and the buses are now cleaner and more efficient. I-15 was just finishing construction from Sandy to Salt Lake before the Winter Olympics in 2002. Current construction on I-15 through Utah County will provide for more efficient transit for the possible games.

Beattie said the reputation Utah has garnered for winter sports will be a major highlight when considering the possibility of an Olympic bid.

“Utah has solidified itself as the world’s winter sports capital,” Beattie said. “We are the only state to host all three International Olympic Committee-sanctioned events.”

The only other cities to host the Winter Olympics twice were Lake Placid, N.Y.,  and Innsbruck, Australia. London, Athens, Paris, St. Moritz, Switzerland and Los Angeles have hosted the Summer Olympic games twice.

“Those 16 days in 2002 may have been the brightest in our state history,” Beattie said. “We have proven we can host an extraordinary Olympics and we would love to have the opportunity to try to do even better the next time.”

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