Protecting the environment and providing transportation for 200,000 Olympic spectators and athletes are two of the most important considerations in choosing 1998 Winter Olympic venues, an organizing committee said Friday.

The Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee's technical subcommittee, which made those determinations, is charged with identifying the sites where Olympic athletes would compete if Salt Lake City were to host the Games.The Organizing Committee is preparing a bid to present next spring to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which will chose a U.S. city to bid for the Olympics before the International Olympic Committee in 1991.

"The No. 1 issue has got to be protection of the watershed, which means avoiding the Cottonwood Canyons," said Salt Lake Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck.

Technical Committee Chairman Neil Richardson said the committee must devise a plan to transport upward of 200,000 people three times a day to and from Olympic venues. "Transportation will be a major issue," he said.

John Pingree, general manager of the Utah Transportation Authority, who will spearhead organizing transportation for the Games, said state law prohibits UTA from providing charter services and from operating in Summit County, both needed to meet Olympic transportation needs. "But we could change those rules."