As 10th anniversary of 2002 Winter Games nears, governor weighing another Olympic bid
He said he and others brought in under Romney to save the scandal-scarred Games "went into it with our heads down, just trying to make this thing work," cutting budgets, selling sponsorships, renegotiating deals and rallying Utah volunteers.
"Our reputation is now that, 'You guys can do anything you put your mind to.' It's not a question anymore," Bullock said.
It was the nation and world's first big event after the 9
11 terrorist attacks, prompting some countries to question whether they would participate. But security concerns with met and the Olympics occurred without serious incident.
"Utah as a community faced those challenges and came together and did a spectacular job," Bullock said. "Whether they were volunteers working at the time, or buying tickets, or just coming down to Salt Lake, I think our community felt a unification like never before."
Tom Welch, the leader of the city's Olympic bids, said hosting the Games taught Utahns some important lessons about themselves.
"I think we feel differently about ourselves," Welch said. "When we started the Olympic process back in the early '80s, there were advertising slogans (labeling) Utah 'a pretty, great state.' The economy was down."
As a result of hosting the Games, Welch said Utahns gained "a recognition that we're as good as a city in this country, and any city in this world. We're not limited by the confines of where we live. We're an international people."
And a people "who measure up to the challenge," of putting on a successful Games despite the obstacles, he said. "I have a sign over my desk that reads, 'I never said it would be easy. I said it would be worthwhile.'"
Welch, who left the Games' organizing committee for personal reasons before the scandal surfaced, faced federal charges in connection with the bribery allegations that were later dismissed.
He acknowledged personally paying "a heavy price" for his involvement with the Games, but said he and his family still have good memories. He said people still thank him for his efforts.
Just the other night, Welch said, a man came up to him at a restaurant "and shook my hand and said, 'Thanks for what you went through and thanks for bringing the Games here. I was opposed to the Games coming but I was wrong.'"
Not everyone who shared that view has come around.
David Owen, part of a group that opposed government spending on the Games, said another bid doesn't make sense given the nation's growing concern over government spending.
"The Olympics were great. But I don't understand why the taxpayers had to pay for them," Owen, now a lobbyist, said. "In my mind, it's not the proper role of government — nothing against the Olympics."
Former 2002 Games volunteer Dominic Moore, now the chief resident in pediatric medicine at a Phoenix hospital, said he'd gladly return to help with another Olympics in Utah.
"We had a few cold nights out working, but honestly, I think I was so excited and the people I worked with were so excited, that it was worth it," Moore said.
"I'd definitely do it again."
After the Olympics
The Deseret News this week looks back on Salt Lake City as host of the 2002 Winter Games. Coming the next few days:
Behind the Games
Travel and tourism
Facilities and venuesPossible 2022 Games hosts
Among the areas considering bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics:
Davos/St. Moritz, Switzerland
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