Salt Lake City Olympics backers are hoping to win friends and influence people when they travel to a U.S. Olympic Committee meeting in Portland, Ore., Fridayin their quest to win the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Ten members of the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee are attending the USOC's Quadrennial Meeting this weekend to monitor formal action at the session and lobby for the city to become the USOC's choice to host the Games.The USOC, perhaps in June, must vote on which city - Salt Lake City; Anchorage, Alaska; Lake Placid, N.Y.; Denver; Reno-Lake Tahoe, Nev.,; or Klammath Falls,Ore. - will bid internationally for the Games.
"I anticipate that we're going to come out of Portland with a good feeling...that Salt Lake needs to be the city to watch and someone's got to beat us. That's our objective," said Committee Chairman Tom Welch. The USOC is meeting to elect officers, hear from Olympic Overview Commission Chairman George Steinbrenner and take other action. However, no formal action directly affecting bidding cities like Salt Lake City will occur.
But that's not to say Salt Lake City officials won't be engaging in a little informal showmanship in the hallways and banquet rooms of the downtown Portland hotel where the meeting is staged.
During past Olympics bids - the last being in 1985 - Salt Lake City was nearly an anonymous contender in the eyes of some USOC delegates, Welch said.
"But today, after all these years and the events we've held in Utah, they're our friends, and we're going to renew those relationships with our friends and ask for their support for our effort," he said.
"We're starting to count votes," he added. The USOC will be electing new officers and Welch said city officials will be working to determine who of the USOC's 114 delegates does and who doesn't support the city's bid for the Games.
Additionally, at a USOC meeting last year, the USOC voted to require the chosen U.S. city to commit to financing and building a bobsled-luge run, speed-skating rink and ski jump regardless of whether it actually hosts the Games.
The requirement was seen by some as a means of ensuring commitment from cities to build facilities for Olympic athletes to train on, whether or not the Olympics are actually held in the city.
Pointing to a measure passed in the Utah House of Representatives dedicating $4 million yearly to building Olympic facilities, Welch said he wants to be sure Salt Lake City's commitment is visible to the USOC.
While Welch is busy tooting Salt Lake City's horn, he'll also be "driving a lot of devils into these other cities" in an attempt to dissuade USOC delegates from lining up behind the city's competitors.
Anchorage, for example, failed to establish a bonding authority for the Olympics, Welch said.
This weekend's meeting is the last gathering of the USOC before a June meeting, where, unless the body agrees to postpone a vote, the USOC will decide which city is "America's Choice," making it a crucial opportunity to lobby for the city Welch said.
If city wins USOC bid it must then mount a 2-year IOC campaign
The U.S. Olympic Committee, meeting this weekend in Portland, Ore., is the organization Salt Lake City must first win over if it is to fulfill its dream of hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics.
The committee with a 114-voting-member executive board representing dozens of Olympic sports, may decide in June which of five competing cities will become "America's Choice" to bid for the Games internationally.
If Salt Lake City wins the USOC bid it must begin a two-year assault on the International Olympic Committee, based in Lusanne, Switzerland. The IOC will choose the actual Olympic host in 1991.