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Utah's Olympic Cauldron Won't Be Lit During Games

Utah's Olympic Cauldron Won't Be Lit During Games

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Keith McCord Reporting We all remember the special moment in Salt Lake two years ago, when the Olympic Cauldron was lit. When the 2002 games ended, the plan was to re-light the Cauldron at Rice-Eccles Stadium during subsequent Olympics and other special events. But this Friday, Utah's Olympic Cauldron will stay dark.

The problem is money. The cauldron burns a lot of natural gas. We called Questar today and asked what would it cost to fire it thing up for the 17 days during the Athens games -- approximately $34,000.

Utah's Olympic Cauldron burns a lot of natural gas when it's turned on -- more gas in a 24-hour period than a typical household burns in one year. And at roughly $2,000 a day to pay the bill, the decision was made not to turn it on during the Athens games. However, there are still plans to light it every February on the anniversary of the Utah Games.

With Opening Ceremonies just two days away, a lot of attention is on Greece right now. Athletes are arriving every day and getting settled in the Olympic Village. As expected, security there is very tight, as it is throughout the entire city.

In an exclusive poll for Eyewitness News, Survey USA asked Utahn's their thoughts about Olympic safety. When asked about the athletes a few -- 20 percent -- are concerned, but an overwhelming majority -- 72 percent -- feel the athletes will be fine. The athletes themselves say they aren't worried either.

Kevin Szott, Judo: “I have to believe in that our country would not send us over there unless they thought it was safe and the security systems are sound.”

Amanda Beard, Swimming: “I’m very confident with you know, having a great security staff. And I know that they are going to do whatever they possibly can to make sure that we’re safe.”

In terms of interest in the upcoming games, the poll shows Utahns will be paying attention. 34 percent say they will go out of they way to turn on the TV and watch; and 53 percent say, if they have the TV on, and happen to flip over to the games, they'll most likely stick with it.

The Olympics have a history of political situations coming to light during the games. With Iraq still in the news, will U.S. athletes hear boos and whistles during the events? How will judges score them? 28 percent believe Team USA will be judged more harshly. But 66 percent say they'll be judged the same as in past games.

One other tidbit from the poll: Should Team USA be made up of amateurs only, or should pros be allowed to go? 63% say amateurs and 34% say allow both.

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