Even though the Olympics are all about competition, they are also supposed to bring people together. People from all over the world, people who otherwise would never meet one another, or ever leave their home countries, come together in Olympic villages and venues and represent the best that every nation has to offer.
So it is with those who organize each Olympiad. And so it seems that plans for Salt Lake City and Utah to host the Winter Games of 2026 got off to a good start Monday.
That's when the report of the ad hoc Olympic Exploratory Committee was not only received, but enthusiastically endorsed, by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. The committee's report was a thorough going-over of the task that would be before those making a Utah Olympic bid, first to secure the games, and then to mount them, at least as successfully as was done with the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002.
The committee's report outlines positive levels of support, availability of facilities, transportation infrastructure, hotel rooms, etc., that would be necessary to suitably impress the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee in the process of winning the bid, and then in actually staging the games.
It indicates not only sufficient infrastructure, much of it left over from the 2002 games, but also high levels of support from governments, the business community and according to a Dan Jones and Associates survey the support of some 74 percent of the general public. And it describes the benefits, primarily the worldwide media coverage and promotion of Utah as a prime recreation destination.
The fact that the community has staged the games before is clearly in its favor. Certainly an advantage over any community that would have to start from scratch.
EnergySolutions Arena, the Maverik Center, the Olympic Park and Olympic Oval, the Salt Palace Convention Center, Snowbasin and the ski resorts of Park City and the Cottonwood Canyons stand ready. TRAX has expanded significantly since 2002, and Salt Lake City and Park City have added many more hotel rooms.
And, if fairness is a concern, USOC and IOC members should consider that twice in 24 years is not exactly hogging the show. Many of those who will star in the 2026 Olympics were not even born when the Games of 2002 went off.
Work must begin now, much of it to be done by people who will be out of office by the time the games are actually staged. And it must be carefully supervised to avoid the scandals that harmed our community's image the last time.
But it is time to get started.
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