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IOC says the Games will go on — despite U.S. tragedy

SHARE IOC says the Games will go on — despite U.S. tragedy

The 2002 Winter Games will go on despite the terrorist attacks that shook the United States, the top administrator of the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

"The Games have been awarded to Salt Lake City, and there's no reconsideration of that," IOC Director General Francois Carrard told the Deseret News in a telephone interview from IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Within hours of Tuesday's tragedy, the IOC issued a statement expressing a "profound sense of shock and disbelief" and sympathy for the families of the victims. Officials declined to comment Tuesday, however, on what would happen to the Salt Lake Games.

Carrard said Wednesday that was out of respect for the victims. "All I can say is the Olympic Games, of course, will take place, but I don't think it's time now for us to speak about celebrations," he said.

"The IOC is fully supportive of our plans to proceed," Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney said Wednesday. "I don't think there's any question about the Games going forward. I think there's more need for the Games in America, not less."

IOC members contacted by the Deseret News agreed.

"I definitely think the Games should take place in Salt Lake City," Thomas Bach, an IOC vice president from Germany said. "They should show that America and the rest of the world are standing together and are not ready to bow to violence."

France's Jean-Claude Killy, the deputy chairman of the IOC coordination commission for the 2002 Games, said he sees "no reason to cancel the Games. . . . The United States can do it. (To cancel) would be somehow playing into the terrorists' hands."

But the chairman of the coordination commission, Marc Hodler of Switzerland, said it is still too soon to discuss what will happen to the Salt Lake Games. "We need more information," Hodler said Wednesday. "We need to know what the partners think."

Especially about security. The IOC is expected to raise new concerns over the safety of Games participants after the crashing of hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and an area near Pittsburgh.

"Security, as far as the IOC is concerned, is absolutely a top priority," Carrard said. He said the IOC appreciates that Utah law enforcement authorities "are keenly aware of this issue."

But, he said it's too soon to talk specifics before next week's meeting of the IOC Executive Board in Lausanne. "Everybody needs some time to reflect," Carrard said. "The executive board will certainly, as you may imagine, be discussing that."

Romney will be reporting to the IOC next week via a video link. He was still in the Washington, D.C., area Wednesday, where he was lobbying for public safety funds.

Since Tuesday's terrorist acts, Romney said he's been assured the government will step forward with whatever additional support is needed. "There is every assurance nothing will be held back," he said.

"I don't believe this is about money. I believe our federal government and our state government and certainly SLOC will spare no expense. This becomes priority number one."

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com