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December 20, 2014

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Utah bid for 2022 Olympics OK with Denver, Lake Tahoe

The more the merrier.

Organizers exploring the possibility of bringing the Olympics back to Salt Lake City say that's the kind of warm welcome they've received from officials pushing competing bids to hold the 2022 Winter Games at Lake Tahoe or Denver.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced earlier this week the formation of an exploratory committee to consider joining the bid process that's already under way 500 miles to the east in the Rocky Mountains and 500 miles to the west on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

"The more the Olympics can be promoted in different cities and regions, the better," said Jon Killoran, chief executive of the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition.

Anne Warhover, co-chairwoman of a 22-member committee examining the possibility of a Denver bid, said Utah's move should help send a message to the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.

"It's validating that other American cities are interested in it," she told the Salt Lake Tribune.

The USOC has to decide by 2013 whether to submit a formal bid and put forth a single nominee for 2022.

The Reno-Tahoe coalition was formed in 2003 as part of a broader effort to showcase the area's potential as a winter-sports destination. A group of California business and political leaders announced last spring they were forming the California Winter Games Committee in a unified effort with Nevada to bring the Olympics to the Lake Tahoe region.

Herbert announced the formation of his committee Thursday on the 10th anniversary of the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

"We've proved to the world we can do it, and do it better than anybody else. The question is: should we do it in 2022?" Herbert said.

Like Utah, the Tahoe group wants to be positioned to consider hosting in 2026 if the earlier bid doesn't work out.

"We're patient," Killoran said. "We'll promote the Olympic movement in our region and prepare ourselves in the eventuality that a bid possibility arises."

Warhover acknowledged Utah would have the advantage of existing facilities left over from 2002, all of which remain in use.

Killoran said Reno-Tahoe also is positioned to take advantage of infrastructure developed for the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley and the tourism industry that grew thereafter in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. However, that infrastructure does not include some of the most expensive venues required for an Olympics, such as a bobsled/luge track, ski jumps and a speedskating oval.

Former USOC spokesman Mark Moran said Utah's interest should help the overall U.S. effort.

"Salt Lake City wants to do it again in 2022. Denver has a team in place to explore its exciting options. Reno-Tahoe is chomping at the bit," Moran said. "You don't need an MRI to figure out that the Olympic spirit is alive and well in the United States."

London will become the first city to host three Olympics when the Summer Games begin there in July.

Five others have hosted two events: Athens, Greece (1896, 2004); St. Moritz, Switzerland (1928, 1948); Lake Placid, N.Y. (1932, 1980); Los Angeles (1932, 1984); and Innsbruck, Austria (1964, 1976).

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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