Tom Welch, chairman of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics Bid Committee, said Tuesday that his Japanese foes in the bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics may have a problem - too much money.
"If there's anything worse in the world than being a rich, ugly American, it's being a rich, ugly Japanese. That's a problem for them. That may give them some advantages economically, but it gives a level of mortality to them that can benefit us," Welch said of his Olympic competition in Nagano, Japan.In some circles, Nagano and Salt Lake City are considered the two top contenders for the 1998 bid. The man named this month by Forbes magazine as the world's richest man, Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, is the honorary chairman of the Nagano bid committee and owns a ski resort that would be used as an Olympic venue.
"When only two or three of us show up at an international meeting, they show up in a train," Welch told a breakfast meeting of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Nagano Bid Committee has said it will spend $5 million in its quest for the Winter Games. Salt Lake City expects to spend $3 million.
Welch said that his Nagano competitors have a penchant for copying Salt Lake City tactics in getting the attention of the International Olympic Committee.
For example, Welch said, after he was photographed with members of the Nagano delegation at one meeting, they showed up at the next meeting with pins almost identical to those from Salt Lake City. They also appeared to have copied nametags that the Salt Lake City delegation wore.
At a recent international meeting in Barcelona, Spain, the Japanese delegation saw a large sign displaying a photo of Salt Lake City and had a similar one two days later, Welch said.
"Their ingenuity is something to behold. Their creativity has something to be desired," Welch said.