Hosting the 2002 Winter Games won't threaten Utah's quality of life, despite concerns raised by a Salt Lake City councilman about the potential downside to the Olympics, bid officials say.
Councilman Stuart Reid said recently that housing costs, taxes, crime and access to alcohol could all increase if Salt Lake City is selected to host the 2002 Winter Games.Reid told fellow council members he would oppose the bid if alcoholic-beverage control standards are lessened for the Olympics, a move he believes would adversely affect the state's quality of life.
Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee Chairman Frank Joklik told reporters during a press conference Thursday that the councilman's fears are understandable but unfounded.
"We believe there is no danger that the quality of life will be prejudiced by the Olympics," Joklik said. "We do not perceive any threats to the quality of life."
Earlier Thursday, bid committee trustees approved a statement regarding special-interest projects that Joklik said would apply to any attempts to use the bid to alter existing laws.
The statement, adopted by bid supporters in 1989, refers to "proponents of various private projects and special interests" who have "claimed that such projects or purposes are important to Salt Lake City's bid for, or for Utah to be able to host, the Olympic Winter Games."
It goes on to ask that "all proponents of private projects, in their efforts to obtain governmental approval or popular support, refrain from asserting that such projects would assist the committee in either being selected by the International Olympic Committee to host, or in actually hosting, the Olympic Winter Games."
While the statement does not mention liquor laws, it does apply to any effort to make it easier for Olympic visitors to get a drink, according to Tom Welch, president of the bid committee.
"There need to be no changes (in Utah's liquor laws) for either the bid effort or to host the Olympics. Our liquor laws are more liberal" than other cities that have hosted Winter Games, Welch said.
He said 18 percent of IOC members come from countries that do not allow liquor. "It's a non-issue," he said, adding that special interest groups should not use the Olympics to further their own movements or causes.
There is apparently no formal effort under way to relax the government's control over the sale of alcohol, although there has been talk of easing access to private clubs for Olympic visitors.
Reid, who himself read the bid committee's statement into the City Council record, said Thursday he is satisfied with what he called "a good-faith effort of the Olympic bid committee to address the issues and concerns I have, particularly with alcohol-beverage control standards."