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Two Olympics viewers watching games with Nevada’s interests at heart

It’s easy to understand why Jon Killoran and Brian Krolicki are watching Sunday’s closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro a little differently than the average viewer.

Over the past three weeks, a global audience has seen and heard the stories centered on athletic competition while getting a taste of the Rio destination.

Every beauty shot of the Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, every view of Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue are tributes to the destination that make viewers say, “Yes, I’d like to be there someday.”

Killoran and Krolicki have that same attitude for Nevada.

Over the past two decades Krolicki, the former lieutenant governor who headed the Nevada Commission on Tourism for eight years, has beat the drum for hosting the Winter Olympic Games at Lake Tahoe.

Killoran, since 2009, has been the CEO of the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, an organization that has led the charge for Nevada and California to bring the Winter Olympics back to the region.

Thanks to some new philosophies by the International Olympic Committee, venues for events could be dispersed and a Nevada bid for the Games could include alpine and cross-country skiing events at Lake Tahoe with skating and curling events in Las Vegas.

“I do watch the Olympics in a different way now,” Krolicki said in an interview. “It’s true, I have Olympic rings under my eyes because I’ve been watching so late at night. … It’s incredible sport, athleticism and camaraderie, but in fact, I’m also finding myself looking at the venues, the logistics, the hotels and the stadium capacity.”

Killoran’s view of the Olympics incorporates a back-of-the-house view of staging events. He cited the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Agenda 2020, which includes recommendations for the successful staging of future Olympiads. That plays right into Nevada’s bid to someday host the Games.

Krolicki and Killoran were in Las Vegas earlier this year to negotiate with organizers of two leading international curling competitions to set the stage for championship events at the Orleans over the next two years.

What started as one organization rolling the dice on Las Vegas as host to a pre-Winter Olympic Games exhibition event has morphed into a series of competitions that fit snugly within the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s international tourism strategy.

After two successful World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling events at the Orleans Arena in 2014 and 2016, the city has maneuvered into position to host the 2017 event and the even bigger 2018 Men’s World Curling Championship.

Thanks to a large number of Canadians who love curling and will travel to follow the sport, Las Vegas has become America’s curling capital. Killoran said the Orleans is on track to sell a record number of all-event passes for a curling competition when the event is staged next year.

Krolicki added that the opening of the T-Mobile Arena and the unveiling of its ice have given credibility to the possibility of the venue hosting future Olympic skating events.

But Las Vegas and Nevada can’t hoist any Olympic banners yet.

The road to hosting the Olympics is long and tortuous. The Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition could do everything right and still not secure the bid.

The 2018 and 2022 Winter Games already have host cities selected. The Games will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018, and in Beijing in 2022. The Reno contingent made a serious run at the 2022 Games.

The site selection process is to first get backing of the U.S. Olympic Committee and, once “nominated,” compete with other countries before the International Olympic Committee.

When the coalition tried to get U.S. committee backing in 2012 for the 2022 Games, there were proposals from Denver, Salt Lake City and Montana in addition to Nevada’s. As the competition moved forward, the U.S. committee opted to combine efforts behind securing 2024’s Summer Games instead of the Winter Games.

While Krolicki said there has been some disappointment in that decision, it signaled an opportunity to demonstrate another Olympic ideal — sportsmanship.

“The U.S. Olympic Committee has complete focus on Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2024 Summer Games and we’re going to honor and support L.A.’s attempt,” Killoran said.

Los Angeles will be the U.S. nominee when the International Olympic Committee considers it against Paris, Rome and Budapest in September 2017.

Until that process is completed, there won’t be any United States effort to host Winter Games.

“I’m completely supportive of the concept,” Krolicki said. “We were disappointed that we didn’t have the opportunity to bid in the 2022 cycle, but the U.S. Olympic Committee did its due diligence and it’s now our responsibility to give Los Angeles our full support.”

Hopefully, Los Angeles will return the favor and support Nevada’s bid so that the we’ll someday see Lake Tahoe and even the Strip on future Olympic broadcasts.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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