Members of the International Olympic Committee's site evaluation team praised Utah's spirit and suggested only one potential drawback to Salt Lake City's bid for the 1998 Winter Games.
"The spirit is first-class," Walther Troeger, an IOC member from Germany, told reporters Wednesday. "When we were at the Jazz game, a lonely voice came, `We are against the Olympics.' Just one voice."Troeger said he was "absolutely surprised" with the level of support for the Olympics in both Salt Lake City and Atlanta, which was selected last year to host the 1996 Summer Games.
But another member of the evaluation team, Pal Schmitt of Hungary, said there may be an area where Utah can improve its proposal for hosting the Olympics.
"I was not very happy with the size of the rooms or the comfort," Schmitt said of the dormitory rooms at the University of Utah that would be used to house athletes. "You can count it as a negative."
Schmitt, who is an Olympic medalist in fencing, said first-class housing typically is secured by the host city for IOC officials, dignitaries, journalists and everybody else except athletes. But that's not an ideal situation.
He recommended the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games re-examine the proposed housing at the U., which he described as "not the best solution," and "render the best possible comfort for the athletes."
Most of the comments made during the nearly hourlong press conference were positive, although the evaluation team members avoided direct comparisons between Salt Lake City and the five other cities competing for the Games.
The evaluation team, which has been touring Salt Lake area facilities and proposed Olympic sites since Sunday, left for Nagano, Japan, on Wednesday. It already has visited Sochi, USSR, and Ostersund, Sweden.
The remaining contenders, Aosta in Italy and Jaca, Spain, are scheduled to be visited next month. The 94-member IOC will select the site of the 1998 Winter Games during a meeting in Birmingham, England, in June.