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Tone set for Salt Lake City’s efforts to land another Olympics

Every action ‘should be considered public,’ new committee’s leader says

The Olympic flag is carried away during the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony, Sunday, Feb 24, 2002, at the Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Olympic flag is carried away during the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony, Sunday, Feb 24, 2002, at the Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The chairwoman of the new committee created to bring the Olympics back to Utah wasted no time Wednesday setting ground rules for the community, business and sports leaders on the board of directors, including distributing a set of talking points.

“Our campaign is what we do and say every single day,” Cindy Crane, the retired president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, said during the committee’s first meeting, held at The Leonardo located across from the Salt Lake City-County Building.

“Every action we take, every conversation that we have, should be considered public,” she said. “Our success as a team is contingent on our ability to present a unified public face through consistent messaging and to refrain from speaking about other cities that we might find ourselves competing against.”

At least two cities are already vying for a Winter Games — Sapporo, Japan, and Barcelona, Spain, which is teaming up with regional mountain venues. Like Salt Lake City, host of the 2002 Winter Games, both have also previously been the site of an Olympics. Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Games, and Barcelona, the 1992 Summer Games.

Crane told reporters after the meeting that while there haven’t been any instances of bad-mouthing other bids, “when you kick something off, when you start something, you set the tone. You set the expectations. To me, that’s just fundamental leadership.”

While Crane said the rules were “not directly” in response to the international scandal that surrounded Salt Lake City’s 2002 bid, she thinks “the strength of our operating principles is to make it very, very clear that those days are behind us and not in our path forward.”

Should anyone stray from her directives, Crane said, “I’m sure we’ll be having a chat.”

The half-dozen “key messages” provided to board members acknowledge the “reality is that this is a future bid” for an as-yet unspecified Winter Games that won’t be determined “until we are completely confident that the time is right for both Utah” and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic committee.

Work is underway to determine the financial impact of hosting either the 2030 Winter Games, the next to be awarded by the International Olympic Committee, or the 2034 Winter Games that follow. Because the 2028 Summer Games will be in Los Angeles, there are potential issues with marketing revenues.

Crane also said after the hour-long initial meeting of the committee that she does not believe a possible cancellation of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, because of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak would affect Sapporo’s recently formalized 2030 Winter Games bid.

“I don’t see a direct correlation,” she said, that would “funnel into any decision-making right now that the IOC would be looking to do associated with a future Winter Games, especially how far out those Winter Games are. … That isn’t going to be at the forefront of their minds.”

But Crane said she has “great confidence” the IOC will make the right decision for the athletes and for the spectators headed to Tokyo even thought “there certainly would be some disappointments.” She said she believes “in their heart of hearts, people don’t want to expose people if a risk is high.”

Although a Salt Lake bid won’t be put together until a decision is made about which Winter Games to pursue, Fraser Bullock, the new committee’s president and CEO, told the committee the price tag would be around $5 million, about half of the previously estimated cost.

However, Bullock, the chief operating officer of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, said the bid process “is hard and it is complex.”

Gov. Gary Herbert said at the meeting the committee represents “kind of a new beginning as we try to work towards hosting the Games in the future,” noting a lot of work had already been done prior to the national Olympic committee choosing Salt Lake City over Denver more than a year ago to bid for a Winter Games.

Herbert said, “2030, 2034, whatever the date may be, who knows. But it’s an opportunity for us to shine again.”