Delegations from Salt Lake City and the other eight candidates for the 2002 Winter Games did their bidding before International Olympic Committee members Saturday.
The first formal appearance for the bid cities filled just half a day of an 11-day schedule of Olympic meetings here that includes the Centennial Olympic Congress, a series of discussions about the future of the movement.Even so, there was plenty of pomp and circumstance.
First, each bidding city's delegation gathered in a busy lobby and waited for an International Olympic Committee functionary to escort them through the first set of doors leading to the IOC Executive Board.
After crossing that threshold, members of the delegations posed for pictures and endured the bright lights of television cameras. Then they were guided down a long corridor to wait again.
Finally, the doors of the meeting room opened and the delegations were seated at one end of the softly lit, gray-toned room, facing IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who heads the 11-member board.
Then the doors were closed to the media and the rest of the outside world before the presentations began. Within 20 minutes, the event that bid city delegations traveled up to thousands of miles to attend was over.
IOC Director General Francois Carrard declined to comment on the presentations other than to say that all of the cities "played by the rules" and kept their comments to a general nature.
"We had suggested the candidate cities not get lost in details, just to introduce the members of their team," Carrard said. There were to be no questions asked by either the bid cities or the IOC during the presentations. Not surprisingly, each delegation told reporters that their presentation was a success. Salt Lake City, widely considered the front-runner after narrowly losing the 1998 Winter Games to Nagano, Japan, in 1991, was no exception.
"I think we distinguished ourselves," said Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee President Tom Welch, reiterating the theme of his two-minute share of the presentation.
Joining Welch were Gov. Mike Leavitt, Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini, U.S. Olympic Committee Executive Director Harvey Schiller, and two other bid committee officials, Chairman Frank Joklik and Vice President Dave Johnson.
Joklik opened the presentation by describing a Salt Lake City Olympics as a public/private partnership that would combine government oversight with the flexibility of a privately funded organizing committee.
Johnson listed what Salt Lake City has done to prepare for the Olympics since losing the 1998 bid, including the completion of the Delta Center and the Ogden ice sheet.
The governor described the Winter Games as "not just a priority for Salt Lake City, but for our entire state . . . due to the results of a 1989 statewide vote, the state of Utah funded with public monies" the Olympic facilities.
The mayor talked about how much the community enjoys "the influence of the Olympic movement." Corradini cited the use of the bid theme, "The World is Welcome Here," in this year's Pioneer Day parade as an example.
She also told the board about the sign across from City Hall that counts down the days until the IOC chooses the site of the 2002 Winter Games in Budapest, Hungary, next June.
That sign serves as a reminder of how confident Salt Lake City is about surviving the first-ever elimination of bidding cities before the final IOC vote. In January, the IOC will trim the list of nine candidates to just four.
The cities expected to be on the list alongside Salt Lake City are Sion, Switzerland; Ostersund, Sweden; and Quebec, Canada. But Graz, Austria, is reportedly looking strong enough to displace one of the four.
The other cities bidding are Jaca, Spain; Tarvisio, Italy; Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia; and Sochi, Russia. The record number of cities bidding is the reason the IOC is narrowing the field in January.
"Another big success," said Bo Victor, vice-chairman of Oster-sund, Sweden's third try at a Winter Games. "It's still quite thrilling to make a presentation."
Ostersund structured its presentation before the IOC Executive Board much like Salt Lake City's, with five speakers who stressed how their bid has improved since 1991.
Quebec bid officials said they emphasized the organization of the effort to bring the Winter Games to the French-speaking provincial capital using detailed charts and notes made on a large tablet.
"That was the program of this event, to show the IOC who we are," said Rene Paquet, bid chairman. There are some 700 volunteers involved in the bid, he said, including 300 who helped put together the city's bid documents.
"It's a small army," Paquet said. "We think that's one of our strengths. In the long run, I think all bid cities are wonderful places. I think you need more than that. You need the involvement of your population."
Quebec Mayor Jean-Paul L'All-ier said he told the IOC Executive Board about the spirit of voluntarism. "We have a tradition of volunteer work. People like that," he said.
For example, L'Allier said some 8,000 Quebec volunteers were expected to attend a lunch honoring their work with sport and leisure organizations. "This is not related to the Games. This is the normal life of the city."
Quebec says it can put on the 2002 Winter Games for about $540 million, a budget that projects about a $22 million surplus. More than one-third of the total budget will come from the Canadian government.
That's less than the $800 million Salt Lake City estimated it would cost for putting on the Winter Games without leaving a surplus, even though the U.S. government is not offering financial support beyond providing security.
Even if Quebec were able to earn more than expected, the city would not spend more on the Winter Games, Paquet said. Additional revenues would be used "not to spend more money, but to bring a bigger surplus than intended."