Here's what Salt Lake City wants prioritized in a future Winter Olympics


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SALT LAKE CITY — Feb. 8 will mark 20 years since Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics and it's no secret that the city and the state of Utah wants to host another Winter Games.

But hosting the Olympic Games often comes with scrutiny. Take this year's Olympics in Beijing. Japan leaders, through a resolution, became the latest country to raise questions about a "serious human rights situation" in China, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

President Joe Biden announced in December that the U.S. won't send government officials to the 2022 Winter Games, citing the same reason. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney had been among the members of Congress encouraging an "economic and diplomatic boycott" of the Games.

There are other concerns that arise from hosting the Olympics. For instance, many Olympic venues end up abandoned and the economic benefits of hosting the Games are often unclear.

The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games skirted many of the issues, which is why city officials, Utah leaders and the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation are celebrating its 20th anniversary and are eager to bring back the massive global event.

Yet given the concerns that have resulted in many cities abandoning Olympic hosting bids, the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously on a resolution that essentially sets the ground rules of what the city wants out of a future Winter Olympics event.

"Salt Lake City desires to ensure that the next Games hosted in our city prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion, is climate-positive, and net-zero waste and acts as a catalyst for achieving major community initiatives," the resolution states. "Salt Lake City believes such a vision will be accomplished in a multitude of ways."

Those ways, the document goes on to read, include that everyone employed throughout the event is paid "a living wage," that all events and venues are "universally accessible," that public-facing staff and volunteers complete disability awareness training and no-cost or reduced-cost rates are provided to ensure all residents, regardless of income level, can attend and the Games or any accompanying events.

They also hope to prioritize the use of current venues — venues like the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah Olympic Park in Park City and the Weber County Sports Complex in Ogden are all still in regular use to this day — in the future event. The resolution calls on the development of a "carbon management plan for Games-related activities" that ensures the future Olympics end up being a zero-waste event, as well.

There would also be a prioritization to optimize the use of public transportation.

The city is part of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, which is actively trying to secure a future bid. The resolution passed Tuesday also recognized the city's 2002 bid, boasting that those Games "set a new, positive standard for how an Olympic Games could run."

Catherine Raney Norman, the chairwoman of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games and a participant of the 2002 Games, applauded the resolution after it was passed.

Norman was an athlete in the 2002 Games and ultimately decided to move to Utah afterward. She told the council Tuesday that she's impressed with how much the city has transformed since she moved, and hopes to bring a second Winter Olympics that set a new standard.

"It has dramatically changed and what I look forward to most is working together with you all, as a city council, with our mayor's office and with our community members in trying to bring a Games back that is truly reflective of what our new Salt Lake City is," she said. "We have a lot of ambitions and a lot of goals, and a lot of work to go forward with but we're so appreciative of the continued support of our civic leaders and of our community."

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in December that the IOC was still waiting to hear back if Salt Lake City wants to host the 2030 or the 2034 Winter Games.

That decision will be made by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Vancouver, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; Barcelona, Spain, and the Pyrenees mountain region; and Ukraine are among the other locations seeking to host either the 2030 Games or beyond.

Norman said Tuesday that she's "very optimistic" about Utah's chances, adding that she believes the inclusive spirit of the Games has the ability to rub off on the state's community again.

"I look forward to the opportunity of trying to bring a Games back here to Utah that benefits our city, our state and our youth," she said. "We have a tremendous opportunity here."

20th anniversary events

Earlier Tuesday, the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation announced its lineup of events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 2002 Games. The foundation plans to celebrate with various events and activities that last beyond February in some cases.

Salt Lake City

  • Feb. 8: $5 skate night at the Gallivan Center
  • February 8-12: The Cauldron at Rice-Eccles Stadium will be lit in honor of the anniversary

Kearns

  • Feb. 18: Figure Skating Show (at 6 p.m.) and $2 Public Skate (7 to 9 p.m.) at the Utah Olympic Oval

Park City

  • Feb. 4-20: The Team USA Store, located at Kimball Terrace on Main Street
  • Feb. 5-March 16: Winter Sports Festival presented by Toyota in City Park (dates vary)
  • Feb. 7: NBC Olympic Rings tour at Utah Olympic Park (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
  • Feb. 10: Watch party at the Utah Olympic Park hosted by Park City Ski & Snowboard (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • Feb. 12: 20th Anniversary Celebration of the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games at Bob Wells Plaza in Park City (2-5 p.m.)
  • April 1: Youth Sports Alliance Olympic & Paralympic Homecoming Parade

Heber Valley (Soldier Hollow Nordic Center)

  • Feb. 4: Free Nordic Ski Day (9 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
  • Feb. 15: Tuesday Night Lights, XC Race Series
  • Feb. 21-March 3: IBU Youth and Junior World Championships Biathlon

Ogden (Weber County Sports Complex)

  • Feb. 2 and March 2: Learn to Curl (6 p.m. to 8 p.m)

Utah County

  • Feb. 12: Skate like an Olympian at Peaks Ice Arena (1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
  • Feb. 14-26: Celebration at University Place (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
  • Feb. 19: Meet and greet with 2002 gold medalist Derek Parra at University Place Mall (2-5 p.m.)

More details about all events can be found at SLC20Year.com.

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OlympicsUtah Olympics bidSalt Lake CountySportsUtah
Carter Williams is a reporter who covers general news, local government, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.

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