Everyone was all smiles Saturday after three days of meetings between organizers of the 2002 Winter Games and oversight officials of the International Olympic Committee.
"It was a conversation, an exchange of views between partners," IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Marc Hodler told reporters. "It was not a relationship between teachers and pupils."But Hodler, an IOC member from Switzerland, provided little information about what went on during the commission's closed-door meetings with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee that began Thursday.
In recent months, the IOC has been pressuring the organizing committee to pick up the pace. Among the IOC's chief concerns is getting key positions filled, especially in the area of sports.
SLOC must have a schedule of every Olympic event completed by the end of the year yet has not been able to find a sports director. Organizers had hoped to make the hire before the commission came but now say it'll take until August.
Asked about those concerns, though, Hodler on Saturday declined to be specific. "We know not all of the jobs here have been appointed. But we have been very much impressed by all of the persons who have," he said.
Hodler said those hires, which include several directors over specific sports such as alpine skiing, were able to talk with the experts on the coordination commission as equals.
Bob Garff, chairman of the organizing committee's board of trustees, said he was impressed by the staff's "depth and breadth of knowledge" including what was contained in a report to the coordination commission.
"We should go to the public with the work we're doing," Garff said, so Utahns know more about the plans for 2002. Once they do, he said, "the people will have a buy-in about what's happening."
But SLOC Chief Executive Officer Frank Joklik said the organizing committee's extensive report to the coordination commission would not be made public because it is a "working document."
Joklik said "an excellent job has been done communicating with the public" by the organizing committee, crediting SLOC Senior Vice President of Public Communications Shelley Thomas.
Garff said there will be public meetings in the next few months to provide details about the organizing committee's plans. The issue of how much the public needs to know came up Friday.
That's when IOC Vice President Anita DeFrantz suggested Utahns should show more support for organizers and let them get their work done without expecting to know "every minute what they're doing."
In response, Garff said Friday that organizers are feeling pressure because Utahns are nervous and frustrated that they don't know more about what's going on.
At Saturday's press conference, Hodler praised Salt Lake City's infrastructure, comparing its nearby airport, wide streets and easy access to the mountains favorably to Nagano, Japan, the site of the 1998 Winter Games.
"Salt Lake City, for us, was an easy Games from the beginning. Nagano's were difficult Games in many aspects," including transportation and accommodations, Hodler said.
He said Olympic security is on the commission's agenda, but organizers appear "very well-prepared" to deal with any potential problems including the possibility of concealed weapons being brought into venues.
"Because of the large attention of the media, the Olympic Games are a stage," Hodler said. "There is a risk that this stage is used for demonstrations and even criminal acts."
Joklik said it's not clear what lawmakers will do about the state's concealed-weapons law, which appears to allow permit-holders to carry their guns into Olympic events.
"It's very difficult to say what's going to happen between now and 2002," Joklik said. "Clearly, everything possible should be done to discourage people with mischievous purposes."
Other issues discussed included a proposal made earlier this year to house biathlon and cross-country competitors closer to Wasatch Mountain State Park outside Midway, where their events will be held.
After the meetings ended Saturday morning, several commission members headed off to tour Snowbasin, site of the downhill ski races in 2002. They will return to Salt Lake City next May for what will be their fourth annual meeting.
The commission's findings will be reported to the IOC Executive Board. Both Hodler and DeFrantz serve on the executive board, which meets several times throughout the year.