Got plans for February 2030?
Pencil this in: the 25th Winter Olympic Games
The United States Olympic Committee Friday chose Salt Lake City as its bid city for the 2030 Winter Games. It is Utah’s first step toward bringing the world back for another round of sliding, skating and inspiring.
The 2002 Games were a turning point for Utah. For 17 days, we had the world’s attention like we’ve never had before or since. Apollo Anton Ohno became a household name, Roots hats were a fashion necessity across continents and Utah’s army of smiling volunteers became legend. Almost 17 years later, it continues to pay dividends. We didn’t just boost our winter tourism. We also carved out a niche as winter sports center, with several companies relocating to the state.
Not to be overconfident, but this time may just be a little easier. Salt Lake City’s first Olympics twice faced the possibility of folding its Olympic tent. The first time came after news broke of Salt Lake City’s over-the-top incentives to International Olympic Committee members. There were fake jobs and free medical care for IOC members’ relatives, among other freebies. The revelations raised the question of whether commercial sponsors would bolt, and now-Sen.-elect Mitt Romney was brought on to reel them back in.
And if scandal wasn’t enough, Salt Lake City got another jolt when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon five months before our Games were to begin. Again there was question of whether they would actually be held.
As we found out, the Olympics are an indestructible franchise. We came as close as anyone to killing them, and instead we saw an outpouring in February 2002. Our Olympics turned out to be just the salve needed in a weary time.
It will be five years before the IOC chooses its 2030 host city, so it’s a little early to develop a true Olympic fever. This moment is more of fever spike.
But the bid is now officially underway, and this time around we are seasoned pros. Our bid has a massive advantage because we have maintained our ice rinks, ski jumps and sled runs, using them for Olympic-level events.
Hosting an Olympics is not without risk, but there is no potential host city that will stand on better financial footing. Even with all that scandal and terrorism, the 2002 Games ended with enough cash left over for a small endowment. This time organizers are aiming for a bigger endowment that could maintain our Olympic facilities in perpetuity. We can do this, and we should.
Sound good? OK. Meet you here in 11 years and two months.