Utah lawmakers heard some reassuring words about Salt Lake City's chances of hosting the 1998 Winter Games from the NBC television network's Olympic consultant.
"You have much more to offer than the other candidates. You have to find the right way to expose it," Alex Gilady, a London-based consultant for the network told a House GOP caucus Wednesday.Gilady, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee's radio and television commission, is the first visitor to Utah connected with the IOC since the 1996 Summer Games were awarded to Atlanta in September.
Utah's Olympic organizers are trying to spread the word that Salt Lake City is still in the running even though getting the 1998 Winter Games would mean back-to-back Olympics in the United States.
Gilady said the focus must shift from Atlanta to the cities competing with Salt Lake City for the Winter Games: Nagano, Japan; Jaca, Spain; Ostersund, Sweden; Sochi, Soviet Union; and Aosta, Italy.
"Everyone is asking what is the effect of Atlanta. Why is this important? This is done. The question is, what is the effect of Nagano," Gilady said, describing Japan as a "very powerful" frontrunner.
IOC members, he said, need to feel they can entrust the Olympics to Salt Lake City. "It's like giving your daughter to a man," Gilady said. "You make them believe you will not abuse the trust they have given you."
House Speaker Nolan Karras, R-Roy, told the representatives they shouldn't lose sight of the real purpose for approving legislation that allowed voters to approve building facilities for the Olympics.
"I've been disappointed a little bit in Utah's attitude toward the event," Karras said, saying the Olympics compared to Utah's effort to become a winter sports capital is like the relationship of a single moon landing to the U.S. space program.
"Our commitment goes way beyond the Olympics," Karras said. "I didn't sign on to get the Olympics here. I signed on to make this a better place to live by becoming a winter sports capital."
Speaking during a separate meeting of the House Democratic caucus, Tom Welch, the chairman of the Salt Lake Bid Committee, also emphasized the long-range plans for the Olympic facilities.
"We sometimes lose perspective of that," Welch told the Democratic House members. "This is a long-term commitment to winter sports, of which the Olympics is a part."