SALT LAKE CITY — Plans to bid to bring the Winter Olympics back to Utah are moving forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Salt Lake City Committee for the Games is exploring the possibility of hosting the 2030 or 2034 event.
“We did work on our end. We did work on our budget and work on our preparations,” said Fraser Bullock, the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City Committee for the Games.
During a recent meeting, the committee presented its objectives in bringing the Olympics back to Utah.
Those included engaging the Utah public and creating an economic impact of $6 billion.
“That was similar to what we had in 2002. It really is job creation. It’s some construction and a lot of tourism,” Bullock described.
Another objective is managing risk.
COVID-19 forced the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. That situation is an alert to organizers that the world is constantly in a state of change and could upend the most well thought out plans.
“Everything has changed, it really has,” Bullock said. We thought we were well prepared in 2002, which we were for all kinds of contingencies, but we didn’t see this one [COVID-19].”
The situation in Tokyo has some parallels to what organizers and athletes faced in Salt Lake City prior to the 2002 Olympics.
Just months before the games began, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 left many wondering if the games would take place.
“I relate it back to the 9/11 attacks,” said Catherine Raney-Norman, a former speed skater and current member of the organizing committee. “When those happened here, going into the Salt Lake City games, I was as athlete then. A lot of us wondered, are the games go forward.”
The 2002 games turned out to be a unifying event for a grieving nation and world.
“We had to dive in, work through all the issues, especially around security,” Bullock said. “How could we keep people from around the world safe? We were able to do that and ended up with spectacular games.”
In 2002, Bullock, other organizers and athletes adjusted. With their eyes on an Olympics sometime in the next decade, organizers are already thinking ahead to any potential developments that could throw a wrench in plans.
“What we have to do is redesign our games in terms of flexibility and risk management. So, no matter what happens we can address those issues,” Bullock said. “It really is challenging but exciting at the same time to reimagine what’s possible in putting a games together.”
“I am excited to see, and I think here in Utah, we have been creative in how we can bring sport back,” Raney-Norman said.
Currently, there is no timetable as to when the International Olympic Committee will decide on the host city for either the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics.
The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are scheduled to take place in July 2021.