FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2018
Salt Lake City, UT – The United States Olympic Committee is touring Utah today as part of Salt Lake City’s bid to host another Winter Olympics in Utah. And while state, local, and business leaders have all enthusiastically supported its return, a Utah nonprofit today called on those leaders to pump the brakes on their bid.
Alliance for a Better Utah, a progressive advocacy nonprofit, urged government officials and the public to thoroughly consider the implications of bringing back the Olympics to the state, including heretofore unforeseen economic, environmental, and societal costs.
“Thus far, we have seen a lot from the Committee about the pros of Salt Lake City hosting another Olympics,” said Lauren Simpson, Better Utah policy director. “We would like to see a well-rounded analysis of the impacts that hosting another Olympics would have on our state, including any potential negative impacts. It’s important to consider wisely the pros and cons of such a massive undertaking for our state and all the people who live here.”
A report compiled by the Olympic and Paralympic Exploratory Committee estimated that although Salt Lake City would be able to host the Games for less money than 2002, expected revenue and expenses would still break even at 1.353 billion dollars. In addition to the direct and indirect economic benefits to the state, they also cite a wide range of intangible benefits, such as increased recognition of Utah among the global community and further building of the state’s reputation as a leader in winter sports.
However, while the Committee’s report highlights benefits and the reasons why Salt Lake City should be chosen as a repeat host, it does not present any analysis of the possible negative impacts a Winter Olympics could have on our state, communities, and environment. Better Utah included a preliminary list of questions they hope the Committee can answer before continuing with the bid:
- How many state and/or municipal taxpayer dollars would actually go toward the Games?
- Will the Committee commit to repaying any state and municipal expenditures, ensuring no taxpayer dollars are spent in putting on the games?
- If taxpayer dollars will be used, is this a wise use of taxpayer dollars? Should it not instead be going toward other purposes, such as homeless services, improved air quality, increased public transit, or increased education funding?
- Should the state be expending so much time, effort, and resources in pursuing a project that will only directly impact urban Utah areas, rather than suffering rural areas?
- What are the negative impacts a Games could have on our state and communities? Will it worsen the quality of our already dirty air? Will it be place significant strain on infrastructure used by residents? Will it continue to add to congestion on our highways and around Utah’s capital city? Will it contribute to economic inequality across the state and our communities by only benefiting businesses and privileged few?
- Are the positive changes cited by the Committee long-lasting or only temporary? Will the Committee put plans and resources in place to mitigate any negative impacts?
Simpson continued, “We are not opposed to the games at this time, but we do want to be sure that our government officials are doing due diligence and allowing time for full and proper consideration, and we encourage them to begin the process soon.
“When our elected officials say this project will be a boon for our state, we want to be sure that the progress will be felt by all Utahns.”
Alliance for a Better Utah is a good government advocacy and watchdog organization based in Salt Lake City. The organization works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government.