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Mountain West Cities Go Head-To-Head For Winter Olympics Bid

This Feb. 8, 2002 file photo shows U.S. champion Michelle Kwan practicing for the women's short program for the Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City.
Doug Mills
Associated Press
This Feb. 8, 2002 file photo shows U.S. champion Michelle Kwan practicing for the women's short program for the Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City and Denver are the last two American cities vying for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games.

Earlier this week, Reno and Lake Tahoe shelved their joint bid for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. They said it wasn’t financially viable.

Rob Ruck, a sports history professor at University of Pittsburgh says both Salt Lake and Denver could avoid the pitfalls of recent host cities that have left vacant stadiums and displaced marginalized communities.

“It would strike me that they would have the capacity to hold games and do much less damage than a lot of cities and countries would have,” Ruck says.

Both metro areas have experienced explosive growth over the past few years and are close to popular winter recreation areas.

Ruck says both cities could pull in enough major sponsors and advertisers to lock down a bid.

“The International Olympic Committee is driven by the bottom line,” he says.

Salt Lake hosted the 2002 winter games -- even after accusations of officials bribing Olympic committee members came to light.

The IOC clamped down on travel to bidding cities to try to limit this type of corruption, but Ruck says it’s still around in international sports.

“I don’t think it’s been adequately dealt with anymore than questions of abuse have been dealt with in a lot of U.S. sporting organizations.”

Denver also has a contentious past with the Winter Olympic Games.

Four decades ago, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state Constitution to ban taxpayer dollars paying for any part of the Mile High City’s bid for the 1976 games.

Lillehammer, Norway hosted the Winter Olympics in 1994 and is also considering a bid for 2030. Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

James Dawson joined Boise State Public Radio as the organization's News Director in 2017. He oversees the station's award-winning news department. Most recently, he covered state politics and government for Delaware Public Media since the station first began broadcasting in 2012 as the country's newest NPR affiliate. Those reports spanned two governors, three sessions of the Delaware General Assembly, and three consequential elections. His work has been featured on All Things Considered and NPR's newscast division. An Idaho native from north of the time zone bridge, James previously served as the public affairs reporter and interim news director for the commercial radio network Inland Northwest Broadcasting. His reporting experience included state and local government, arts and culture, crime, and agriculture. He's a proud University of Idaho graduate with a bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. When he's not in the office, you can find James fly fishing, buffing up on his photography or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.
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