SALT LAKE CITY — A special ceremony was held outside of Rice-Eccles Stadium Tuesday night to commemorate 20 years since the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Olympic games were held in Utah.
“We will get it again — I have no doubt about that,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox when asked about getting the games back in Utah. “The IOC has been very clear, we have all of the venues, we fit what the Olympic movement is all about going forward, and so we feel very confident.”
Catherine Raney-Norman, a four-time Olympic speed skater and chair of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, has been speaking with the International Olympic Committee about the potential future of the games in Utah.
“We’re hopeful in the coming months, we’ll have greater conversations and in-depth negotiations with them,” said Raney-Norman.
Tuesday’s ceremony featured a short speaking engagement before the passing of torches led to the official lighting of the cauldron. Fraser Bullock, the president and COO of the Utah committee, says having the games come back to Utah would be a way for the state to give back.
“For Utah, it’s really an opportunity to give back because the Olympic movement did so much for us,” said Bullock. "Also, we have a new generation that never experienced the games. I want my grandkids to see the unity and solidarity and then volunteerism that came from the games. That would be wonderful to see again.”
Olympic speed skater Derek Parra agrees with the next generation needing to witness the games. Parra won two medals in the 2002 games, including a gold in the 1500 meter speed skating event. He now teaches the next generation of skaters.
“I would love to get the games back to Utah,” said Parra. “We were in bad place back in 2001. The country was attacked. As athletes, we were uncertain if there were going to be any games, you know? Mitt [Romney] came to rescue and along with Fraser [Bullock], and we hosted the games and everybody came out. The world came to Utah.”
The Olympic cauldron is located at the plaza outside of Rice-Eccles Stadium along 400 South. The cauldron will be lit until February 12.
Other events commemorating the anniversary are also planned in different areas across the state over the next few months. Click here to view the full list.