Salt Lake City’s new Olympics bid comes after scandal’s lessons

SALT LAKE CITY — When Salt Lake City pursued the Winter Olympics more than two decades ago, competition was so fierce that lavishing International Olympic Committee members with gifts and favors seemed commonplace. Salt Lake City got caught in a bribery scandal that nearly derailed the plans for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Two decades later, the script has flipped.

The IOC is struggling to find cities willing to take on the financial and societal burden of hosting the Winter Olympics. The race to host the 2026 Winter Olympics is down to just two cities after several dropped out over a lack of local support. Beijing got the 2022 Winter Olympics by attrition, winning by four votes over Almaty, Kazakhstan, after a half-dozen European bidders dropped out, discouraged by soaring costs and taxpayer backlash.

That’s why a city that, for a time, stood out as a pariah in the Olympic world is a serious contender again, this time for the 2030 Winter Games — decades sooner than anyone expected and despite that bid scandal.

 


Utah’s capital city is among an increasingly small group of cities worldwide that has the venues needed for winter sports and the willingness to take on the costly task of hosting Olympics that have lost some of their cache. The U.S. Olympic Committee last week chose Salt Lake City over Denver as a future bid city. The IOC will choose a 2030 host by 2023 at the latest.

Jules Boykoff, a Pacific University professor who has written widely on the Olympics, said the bribery scandal is “a pretty big stain on the history of the games.”

“But these days, the International Olympic Committee is not in a position to be overly picky,” Boykoff said.

The scandal broke in 1998, three years after Salt Lake City was chosen over cities in Canada, Sweden and Switzerland. Salt Lake’s bid committee doled out $1 million in cash, scholarships, medical care, gifts and other favors to IOC members and their families. That included ski trips, NBA tickets, plastic surgery, knee replacements, violins and housing and salary for children of IOC members, according to report by an ethics panel.

It led to the expulsion of six IOC members, the resignation of four others severe warnings for several others though none faced criminal charges. U.S. prosecutors brought criminal charges against two Salt Lake bid leaders, but both men were acquitted by a judge halfway through a federal trial.

The IOC brought in outside experts to help reshape the organization. The IOC approved a 50-point reform package that included a ban on member visits to bid cities, creation of an independent ethics committee and term limits.

Olympic historian David Wallechinsky said Salt Lake City’s current bid officials will have to talk about the scandal, but he doesn’t think it will impact their candidacy. The Salt Lake City bribery scandal capped off decades of cities trying to win the favor of IOC board members behind the scenes.

“They learned from the corruption of other cities that beat them before,” Wallechinsky said. “It’s not like they invented the corruption … they just got caught.”

Mitt Romney, who was brought in to steer the 2002 Games through the scandal, said the city selection process is a now a more transparent process than it was in the past.

“That’s good for Salt lake City,” said Romney, elected last month to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate. “We will be judged on the merits.”

Boykoff said it is naive for anyone to think corruption is a thing of the past at the IOC, citing the case of honorary member Carlos Nuzman of Brazil who headed the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He was suspended on corruption allegations connected with vote-buying.

Before the IOC picks a city for 2030, it will have to choose a host for 2026 between Stockholm and the duel bid of Milan and Cortina d’ Ampezzo, Italy. Calgary, Canada, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, backed out after voters rejected a referendum. Three other cities withdrew earlier this year and Erzurum, Turkey, was eliminated last month by the IOC.

Salt Lake City says it can host the Olympics for about $1.35 million, not including additional security costs covered by the U.S. government, relying mainly on existing venues. Stockholm and Milan/Cortina d’ Ampezzo offer similar plans and similarly low estimates, $1.5 million.

Wallechinsky and Boykoff doubt any city can host the Olympics for that little. A 2016 study at Oxford University found the Olympics have the highest average cost overrun of any type of megaproject.

Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics cost $2.52 billion, a 24 percent cost overrun, the Oxford report found. That was actually the second lowest cost overrun behind only the 2010 Vancouver Olympics among all Olympics held from 1960-2016.

The lack of public opposition that helped make Utah appealing to the USOC could change as the real costs emerge, Boykoff said.

“Right now, everything is kind of like unicorns and rainbows and low budgets,” Boykoff. “Almost inevitably the price tag tends to go up.”

ad-high_impact_4
News
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Navigating the new I-515 southbound to 215 Beltway ramp configuration
After opening at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, the new Interstate 515 southbound to the 215 Beltway westbound freeway ramp configuration caused confusion amongst motorist. Here’s how to navigate the new ramp. (Mick Akers/ Las Vegas Review-Journal).
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like