From the U.S. Senate back to the Olympics? What could be next for Mitt Romney
Former 2002 Winter Games leader says he may be ‘long in the tooth’ by the time Utah hosts another Olympics
Now that Mitt Romney has announced he’s not running for a second term as a U.S. senator from Utah, is there a role for the former leader of the 2002 Winter Games in the state’s efforts to host another Olympics?
“I will stay as a resident of Utah,” Romney told the Deseret News. “And I’m happy to give advice and counsel to Fraser Bullock and others. But again, it’s time for the next generation to be leading those Games. Fraser is fully competent to do that.”
But Bullock, who said he already turns to Romney for advice on the bid, said it’s too soon to talk about who would lead a future Olympics in Utah.
“We’re just focused exclusively on the bid and winning a bid. Then we can leave the next chapter for the future. But I envision Mitt continuing all the way through a Games as an excellent adviser. I think he prefers that role over any formal role,” Bullock said.
He and Romney have a history of working closely together at the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics, Romney as president and CEO, and Bullock as chief operating officer.
Romney said if Bullock doesn’t head up another Olympics, there are others who will step up, including the 2002 chief financial officer, Brett Hopkins, who now holds that title along with that of chief operating officer on the bid committee.
“I will support our bid,” the 76-year-old Romney said. “I don’t know whether it’s going to be 2030 or 2034 — by 2034 I’m getting kind of long in the tooth.”
Bullock praised Romney’s work in the Senate on behalf of Utah’s bid.
“He and his office have been very supportive on the federal government requirements needed for our bid,” Bullock said, referring to guarantees sought by the International Olympic Committee from would-be hosts.
All of the needed assurances have already been obtained from various federal agencies that deal with a wide range of issues, including that the U.S. will provide security for another Winter Games, he said.
Romney came to Utah in 1999 after being recruited by state leaders to take over the troubled organizing committee amid the fallout from an international bribery scandal surrounding the successful bid for 2002.
“I’ve had some wonderful experiences in the public sector. I’ve been involved in the public sector for 25 years. The highlight was helping lead the Olympics,” Romney said, a sentiment he’s expressed often, including during his run for president in 2012.
Salt Lake City is competing to host another Winter Games against five other bids, from Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; Sweden, Switzerland and France. IOC leaders could name their 2030 and 2034 picks as soon as October, with a final vote some time next year.
Contributing: Suzanne Bates