Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney's comments regarding London's preparedness for the Summer Games were poorly timed but not entirely inaccurate, Fraser Bullock, Chief Operating Officer of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, said today.
"Every Olympics has challenges, and this one will as well. It's just a normal part of putting on the Games, particularly the first few days as people are trying to work things out, security and transportation," Bullock said by phone from London on KSL Radio's "Doug Wright Show" Friday morning, a day after Romney's comments exploded in controversy.
Romney questioned the readiness of London in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams Thursday that captured the attention of media both overseas and in the U.S. It quickly became a rallying cry for the Brits and put Romney on the defensive. Romney now is only hours away from attending the opening ceremonies, even as London hopes for the best.
"It's normal and so it happens every time and Mitt just pointed that out," Bullock said of Olympic-sized challenges every host city faces. "Probably his biggest issue was timing. If he would have said it a week ago it wouldn't have mattered, but coming the day before opening ceremonies people are focused on the Games and that probably just heightened the issue."
Bullock said that people need to forget about Romney's comments and focus on the Olympics and the athletes.
"They shouldn't detract from the spectacle of the athletes. That's what we are all focusing on," Bullock said. "The stories and these inspirational moments and these lifetimes that have been put together by these athletes. And the stories that are going to unfold will just be a great masterpiece for all of us to watch."
Bullock said London and its people look ready for the Olympics.
"People are very friendly, they're very excited, the traffic is extremely challenging to say the least. The city is ready, there's a lot of buzz around here, a lot of enthusiasm," Bullock said. "The security is everywhere, in parks and it's very friendly, non-obtrusive but it's everywhere."
He said that the people of Utah were wonderful and made the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics what they were.
"In Salt Lake, our wonderful people just set the stage for our Games, friendliness, efficiency, welcoming everybody, and people in the Olympic community still remember that," he said. "And here, in the U.K., in London, I'm seeing the same attitude."
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