For the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Deseret News has a nice package of stories, including a look at the still-viable venues. Winter sports athletes train and compete there on a regular basis, and they have a few fun features to draw tourists and local recreational athletes as well.
Meanwhile, in Rio … ugh.
Sure, I’m biased. I have souvenirs from the 2002 Olympics all over my house. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to go back to Utah a few years later.
But the fact remains: Few cities around the world are ideally suited to host the Winter Olympics. Most host cities are vaguely close to some mountains. In Salt Lake, it’s all right there. And it’s all in great shape — Utah Olympic Park (sliding track, ski jumps) and the speedskating oval are still in steady use.
Cross-country skiing and biathlon is the one exception, requiring a trip out to Soldier Hollow so the skiers aren’t up in the mountains without any air. Curling and one hockey venue were farther away in 2002 — a closer arena this time would make the Games even less of a logistical problem. (Hockey in Rio Tinto Stadium? Probably not, but it’d be nice to throw Sandy something.)
The downside of Utah in the IOC’s eyes is that U.S. investigators laid bare the culture of bribery in the bidding process. (Switzerland may also have paid the price for harboring a whistleblower.) At some point, the dignitaries who expected whining/dining/bribing as part of the bidding process will be out of the picture. Time wounds all heels.
Here’s the story: Salt Lake City wants to host Winter Olympics again.