The International Olympic Committee will find everything it’s looking for in a Winter Games host city when it examines Salt Lake City’s bid to stage another one, whenever that may be.
“We are the poster child of a place that could showcase a more sustainable and logical approach to hosting an Olympics, doing it cost effectively and doing it with folks who have experience,” Colin Hilton, who runs the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, said Wednesday at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
That experience, he said, starts at the top with people such as Fraser Bullock, the chief operating officer at Salt Lake City’s 2002 Winter Games and the de facto leader of Utah’s pursuit of the 2030 Olympics and Paralympics.
Bullock will be pushing Salt Lake City’s interests when he meets with IOC and U.S. Olympic Committee figures over the next week or so at the Pyeongchang Games.
Bullock already has been busy on the domestic front, Hilton said, having huddled with the head of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee to discuss ways the two Olympic organizations could cooperate on sponsorship matters and other issues if Salt Lake City secures the 2030 Games, right on the heels of L.A. in 2028.
“We have ideas we are sharing about how a joint effort could benefit Los Angeles as well as Salt Lake City,” Hilton said. “There are unique opportunities for partnerships.”
Salt Lake City’s Olympic experience runs deep, he added, citing scores of Utahns who worked for Team 2002 or have volunteered since then as timers or other support staff at World Cup speedskating, sliding, jumping and skiing events.
“It takes years to develop that experience,” Hilton said, “and we have been doing that.”
In building a culture here that has embraced the Olympics, he said, Salt Lake City is well positioned to “highlight how we can transform the Olympic movement and showcase how the city can advance the ideas in ‘Olympic Agenda 2020.’”
Hilton was referring to a document the IOC adopted in 2014 in response to dwindling interest globally in bidding for the Games because of their skyrocketing costs and complexities. That document emphasized the need to hold down costs by reusing facilities, focusing on places where athletes gather to train, and looking to areas where the natural geography is conducive to the challenges.
Salt Lake City’s bid meshes snugly with those desires, Hilton said.
No new venues will be needed. Nearly a third of the U.S. Olympic team in South Korea has Utah ties. The city has more hotels now than in 2002. The mountain venues are as close to downtown as ever. And another key geographical asset — a major airport close to town — is getting even better with the $3 billion renovation of Salt Lake City International.
With those assets in place, he said, Salt Lake City’s Olympic leaders can focus on promoting projects that clearly establish the benefits a region gets from being a host, whether it’s forging ties between Utah universities and Olympic sponsors or developing Games-oriented transportation systems that might even reduce air pollution.
“If there’s going to be impacts, how do we mitigate them? And how do we use the Olympics to advance good measures,” Hilton said of the priorities a future organizing committee could set. “It’s a philosophical approach that makes me excited, rather than the Games being something that comes in and disrupts.”