Members of the International Olympic Committee, which will select the site of the 1998 Winter Games next month, are reading nothing but good news about Salt Lake City's bid in an IOC evaluation released Tuesday.
"It is about as good a report as we could have hoped for from Salt Lake City's perspective," said Tom Welch, chairman of the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games.There are no negative comments about Salt Lake City in the report, which was written after the IOC's seven-member site evaluation commission visited each of the six cities competing for the Olympics earlier this year.
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Salt Lake's competition didn't fare as well. The report found at least one drawback to each of the other cities, Aosta, Italy; Jaca, Spain; Nagano, Japan; Ostersund, Sweden; and Sochi, Soviet Union.
But Welch, who made the report public at a meeting of the Utah Sports Authority, said the report doesn't guarantee Salt Lake City will get the Winter Games.
"Salt Lake City is in a very advantageous position," Welch told the sports authority members before cautioning them, "from a campaign standpoint, that's probably not enough."
That's the way Niels Holst-Soerensen, chairman of the evaluation commission, apparently feels about the report, according to a letter to the 93 members of the IOC.
"I should like to stress that the report does not give you an indication of how to vote, for it is a technical report underlining the strong and weak points of the cities and the differentiates between the bids.
"In conclusion, the report does not deal with policy issues, and it is thus up to you, my Colleagues, to give due consideration to the various factors involved."
Here are some of the general impressions in the report for each city:
- Salt Lake City - Could probably stage the Olympic Winter Games by 1994 because of the advanced construction program and the existence of all the hotel, transportation and other required services.
- Aosta - A wealthy, stable area where winter tourism is well developed. One of the challenges will be to develop plans for transporting athletes into the mountains, especially in bad weather.
- Jaca - Some technical difficulties with downhill ski courses and other facilities. Delivery of the required accommodation needs and at a reasonable cost a major challenge.
- Nagano - Concept of the Games very good. Environmental concerns expressed by a handful of protesters at some sites, but their impact seems minimal in comparison with the numbers and enthusiasm of other residents and officials.
- Ostersund - Sweden is one of the world's major winter sports nations, but has never been awarded an Olympic Winter Games. Meeting accommodations needs will present a challenge.
- Sochi - Just beginning to develop plans and there are no existing venues, so construction costs would be high. Current political debate between some republics and the central government makes it difficult to predict the support by the Russian Republic and the government of the USSR.