Several unforeseen problems have made it even harder for the state's Olympics sales force to raise money and support for Salt Lake City's bid for the 1998 Winter Games.

First was the selection of Atlanta as the site of the 1996 Summer Games last fall by the International Olympic Committee. Many believe that decision means the 1998 Winter Games will go to a city overseas.Then last month, the United States went to war against Iraq, and Operation Desert Storm may not be over by June. The IOC would be breaking a long-standing tradition if it awarded the Games to a nation at war.

Most recently came the threat of a boycott against the Olympics by the Utah chapter of the National Organization for Women. The feminist group is protesting Utah's passage of the nation's most restrictive abortion bill.

Although the Atlanta decision initially stunned members of the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games, they now call it a sign that the IOC is picking cities based on qualifications instead of politics.

Athens, Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, was considered the politically correct choice over Atlanta for sentimental reasons since 1996 marks the 100th anniversary of the Games.

To counter the effect of the Atlanta decision on both fund raising and public support, the bid committee began pitching Salt Lake City as the best qualified of the six cities competing for the bid.

Political issues outside the IOC haven't been so easily handled. The war in the gulf is causing the state's Olympic supporters the most concern, since the Games have never been awarded to a country at war.

"That scares me a lot more than the abortion issue," said Fred Ball, Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce president and vice chairman of the bid committee. "If this country is still at war in June, that could hurt us."

Ball said he fears that IOC members representing nations that disagree with the U.S. battle to drive Iraq out of Kuwait will vote against Salt Lake City in June.

But other bid committee officials point out that the only voting IOC member from the Persian Gulf represents Saudi Arabia and that many nations are backing the U.S. effort with money and even troops.

The NOW boycott is still only a threat, although that could change when NOW's national board meets in April and endorses pressuring the IOC to vote against Salt Lake City because of the abortion bill just passed by the Legislature.