Jay Evensen: The 2030 Winter Games Shouldn't Come to Utah

By Evensen, Jay | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), November 14, 2018 | Go to article overview

Jay Evensen: The 2030 Winter Games Shouldn't Come to Utah


Evensen, Jay, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski has said the city’s bid to host another Winter Olympics is “ours to lose.”

I recommend we lose it.

That may not be a popular opinion on a week when the Utah Legislature called a rare joint meeting to welcome officials from the U.S. Olympic Committee who were in town to scope out the leftover venues from the 2002 Winter Games.

But somebody has to say it.

The USOC will choose between Salt Lake City and Denver for the chance to bid for the 2030 Winter Games. That’s the headline. The story is a little more nuanced.

The Reno-Tahoe area was under consideration until it dropped out of contention voluntarily. The talk in Denver is that people may want a vote on whether their bid is a good idea. That’s ominous, considering Denver voters rejected the 1976 Games in a vote held 46 years ago.

But in case you hadn’t noticed, a lot of cities have been doing that lately.

Calgary held a vote Tuesday about the 2026 Winter Games. Turnout was high, and 56 percent voted no. That’s significant, considering Calgary, like Salt Lake City, has done this before.

But the same could be said for Oslo, Norway, which decided to back out a few years ago because of worries over environmental damage and, most important, costs.

Sion, Switzerland, also backed out. So did Sapporo, Japan, and Graz, Austria. They, too, were in the running for the 2026 Winter Games, which now, by default, are down to either Stockholm, Sweden, or a multi-city bid from Italy.

New York Times sports columnist Michael Powell put it well Monday when he wrote, “Hobbled by a reputation for gross expense and corruption, the International Olympic Committee has become a mendicant, shuffling from nation to nation, shaking its cup and asking if anyone might be interested in bidding on the 2026 Winter Games.”

Why on earth is Utah so willing to raise its hand and volunteer, even if it’s not until 2030?

Like many people who lived here 16 years ago, I have fond memories of the games. Watching the torch enter the city and make its way to the stadium and seeing all the happy foreigners and the general party atmosphere that enveloped the Wasatch Front felt almost as if the world had declared peace and named this as its capital. …

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