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Reno-Tahoe pulls out of competition for Winter Olympics, leaving Salt Lake and Denver

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SALT LAKE CITY — Reno-Tahoe, one of Salt Lake City's competitors for another Winter Games, dropped out Monday, leaving only Denver also still in the running to be chosen to bid by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The announcement from Reno-Tahoe comes as the USOC is set to conduct site visits as well as polling to determine public support before making a choice for a future Winter Games, likely 2030, as soon as the end of the year.

“We have maintained from the start that a Reno-Tahoe bid would have to make sense economically, environmentally and socially,” Brian Krolicki, chairman of the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, said in a news release.

“Given the parameters and conditions presented, we cannot make the numbers pass muster. To continue, at this point, would be untenable and unwise,” he said. The news release called it a "necessary decision."

Denver's bid team had no comment Monday on Reno-Tahoe's decision.

Five top USOC officials are scheduled to be in Salt Lake City Wednesday for a daylong tour that's expected to include a stop at Utah Olympic Park, home to the sliding track and ski jumps used in the 2002 Winter Games.

Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski are expected to help host the USOC officials at a luncheon at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the 2002 opening and closing ceremonies were held.

Biskupski, co-chairwoman of Salt Lake Executive Committee for the Games, told the Deseret News that Salt Lake City continues to have a strong bid backed by significant community support.

The mayor said 89 percent of Utahns backed hosting another Olympics in a poll last year, unlike in Denver, where an initiative is circulating for the 2019 ballot that would give voters veto power over spending public money on a Winter Games.

"We don't have to go through that process here," Biskupski said, calling it an "interesting process" for Denver to have to embark upon, giving the timing of the USOC's decision.

She also said Colorado's governor-elect, Jared Polis, has spoken out against a Denver Games. Colorado voters rejected picking up the tab for the 1976 Winter Games after Denver was picked to host by the International Olympic Committee.

During a June gubernatorial debate, Polis said he would oppose a Winter Games bid because only millionaires and the business community benefit while the rest of the population shoulders the debt, according to the Denver Business Journal.

"It's interesting," Biskupski said. "We'll see what comments he makes this week following (USOC's) visit."

Now, with Reno-Tahoe no longer in the running, the mayor said she's "pretty confident we have a strong position." She said Salt Lake's bid supporters "take this very seriously and are very committed to the Olympic family."

Fraser Bullock, a leader of the effort to bring another Olympics to Salt Lake City, said he'd had the chance to work with backers of the Reno-Tahoe bid.

"What I love about them is they are full of the Olympic spirit and enthusiasm to host a Games," Bullock said. "They've conducted themselves extremely professionally and with that enthusiasm throughout this entire process."

Last month, the USOC decided not only to select an American city to bid for a future Winter Games, but also to accelerate the process so a city could be in place possibly in December.

The Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition indicated then it was reviewing the new process as part of "its continued due diligence to ony proceed if doing so makes sense for the entire region and has a viable business model."

The Nevada-based Reno-Tahoe bid had considered using cities outside the area, including Sacramento and Las Vegas, to hold various events such as hockey and speedskating.

USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland thanked the coalition in a statement for participating in the process and said "leaders in Nevada and California have demonstrated an incredible commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic community and the athletes we all serve."

Hirshland said the USOC looks forward to working with the group "to identify new opportunities to take advantage of the tremendous assets the region has to offer, from Reno-Tahoe to Las Vegas, to support Team USA and advance Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States."

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Lisa Riley Roche


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