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OF 9 BID CITIES, ONLY S.L. RATES AN `EXCELLENT’

SHARE OF 9 BID CITIES, ONLY S.L. RATES AN `EXCELLENT’

While backers of Salt Lake City's bid for the 2002 Winter Games bask in the excellent rating received from an International Olympic Committee evaluation team, supporters of other bid cities aren't so pleased.

Although the IOC has yet to get the 200-page report to the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee or the Utah media, the Deseret News has obtained the evaluations for each of the nine cities bidding for the 2002 Winter Games.Salt Lake City is the only city of the nine to be described as excellent. Cities the IOC Evaluation Commission described as having good bids are Sion, Switzerland; Quebec, Canada; and Ostersund, Sweden.

"It seems they have put Salt Lake City in a class of its own," Olympic Bid Committee Chairman Tom Welch said, adding that any of the "good" cities could claim second place.

The dozen members of the evaluation commission, formed to help a special IOC panel narrow the number of candidate cities from nine to four next January, did not rank the cities.

In their report, they explained what they liked and didn't like about each of the bid cities. And while four cities clearly emerged as the likely finalists, others did not fare so well.

Using words like "risk," "highly unlikely" and "ambitious" to describe the other cities bidding, the evaluation commission appeared to eliminate them from the competition before the January vote.

Most of the problems center around finances. Salt Lake City's financial plan is called excellent by the evaluation commission, even as questions are being raised in Utah about the ability to hold the Olympics without tax subsidies.

The evaluation commission cited financial concerns about the bids of both Sochi, Russia, and Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia, raising questions about the ability of the two new nations to come up with the needed investment.

Especially Sochi, a summer resort that hopes to add winter sports facilities, "is burdened with an unbearable amount of risk . . . it is highly unlikely that a feasible financial plan could be developed."

A number of problems with the proposed budget were also pointed out in the unique bid of Tarvisio, Italy, including "highly underestimated" costs. Tarvisio has proposed holding the Winter Games in Italy, Slovenia and Austria.

Those problems "and other uncertainties lead the commission to the conclusion that accepting the proposed financial plan would entail a high degree of risk," the report notes.

The bid of Jaca, Spain, also raised financial questions. The revenue forecast is called ambitious but possible, with government assistance and "the full participation of the population in the lotteries."

Graz, Austria, once labeled a strong competitor by officials of Salt Lake City's bid, has trouble with its financial guarantees from the Austrian government.

Because the budget figures for Graz "appear to have a high degree of uncertainty," the evaluation commission "feels that it would not be prudent to accept this financial plan" until the problems are resolved.