Salt Lake City is just celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the 2002 Winter Olympics, but that’s not stopping Utah Gov. Gary Hebert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker from looking into another bid for the games. The two announced their plans Wednesday, which so far only include forming an exploratory committee that will look into possible bids for the 2022 or 2026 Winter Olympics.
The main factors are costs involved and how much competition the city would have from other potential hosts. According to Ally Isom, the governor’s spokeswoman, it’s really not that big of a deal. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
“We need to look at what the real costs would be of upgrading facilities, putting a bid together … and what other competitors are out there,” said [Isom] “This is meant to be a small group to advise the governor on whether we should pursue a bid.”
That small group will be led by Becker, Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and Steven Price, chairman of the Utah Sports Commission. The bid would hopefully be privately-funded, they said, meaning no tax dollars would be potentially wasted on the effort.
What it also means is that we could see a repeat of the scandal that surrounded the city’s successful bid for the 1998 games. Then, allegations flew that the bid committee gave gifts, health care benefits, questionable real estate deals and thousands of dollars in cash to members of the International Olympic Committee. The Department of Justice even leveled 15 charges of bribery and fraud against Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, two Utah businessmen and the heads of the Salt Lake bid committee. Ten members of the IOC were expelled and ten more were sanctioned.
So, you know, let’s not do that again, OK?
If Salt Lake successfully wins a bid for the games, the city will join St. Moritz, Switzerland; Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Innsbruck, Australia as a host of two Winter Olympics.