The man who masterminded Atlanta's successful bid for the 1996 Summer Olympic games told Salt Lake bid officials Thursday to expect "honest and forthright" treatment from international balloters come selection day.
"We found that International Olympic Committee members really do try to rise above politics; that they don't represent their countries, they represent the Olympic movement. Most of them want to do what's best for the Olympic athletes of their generation," former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young said.More than 90 members of the international committee will decide the fate of Salt Lake's bid June 15 in Birmingham, England.
Some Utahns thought Atlanta's selection to host the `96 Summer Games would harm Salt Lake City's prospects - since IOC members may be reluctant
to award both bids to one nation.
But supporters shouldn't waste time worrying about IOC members' intentions.
"They strive to do away with all politics, all geography, all provincialisms and deal with this pure Olympic spirit in as honest and forthright way as they can," Young said.
He noted that organizers can throw a solid argument at those who say too few miles separate Atlanta and Salt Lake City to host the Winter and Summer games in one decade.
"Serajevo, Albertville, and Lillehammer (the last three cities that have hosted or will host the Winter Games) can all fit between Atlanta and Salt Lake City," he said. "We should not be penalized for being a big country."
Young, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Carter administration,also told Salt Lake organizers that one-on-one visits with IOC members helped Atlanta win.
"We developed some really good friendships and good ties; I think that's what made a big difference for us," he said. "And that's what can make a big difference for you."
Eight IOC members visited Utah's venues before Atlanta was awarded the `96 Games. Organizers say about 60 IOC members have accepted invitations to visit Utah; more than 22 have already come.
Officials are seeking $850,000 to fund the remaining visits, Olympic bid chairman Tom Welch said.