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Mayoral candidates discuss Olympic Games

Simon Ammann of Switzerland competes during the men's K90 Individual ski jump at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2002. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Should Park City host another Winter Olympic games? Candidates for Park City Mayor tackled that question at a debate Monday, hosted by KPCW, the Park Record, the Park City Chamber, and The Park City Community Foundation.

Current City Council member Nann Worel said she was not in Park City for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and she’s hearing from residents who WERE in town at the time, that they’re not eager for the games to return.

“I’m not hearing a lot of enthusiasm for them coming back," she said. "They had a great time, but they recognize the impacts that it had on the community. I think that that’s a conversation that’s overdue for us to have with our town.”

Worel said another Winter Olympics in Park City may be inevitable, and the town may be obligated to host some events if Utah is granted the games again. She said if that does happen, the city’s focus needs to be on residents and mitigating the impact of the Olympics on them.

“How are we going to mitigate the traffic, how are we going to mitigate the growth, how are we going to mitigate the number of people in town that are in town, how are we going to mitigate the security issues that comes with those games," she said. "So there’s all sorts of things that have to be considered.”

Beerman said Park City has been involved with the state in the planning and bidding process. He noted that the International Committee wants to make changes in how the games are run, and Beerman believes those changes fit with Park City’s values.

"They want to make the games athlete-centric again, get away from all the commercialism," he said. "They want them to be fiscally responsible - the prices have ballooned so states want to host these. They want these in real authentic mountain towns that reflect their culture. And they want them to be 100% net zero climate friendly game.”

Beerman added that Park City has a “seat at the table” because he serves on the Executive Committee, and he is co-chair of the Host Venues Committee. He said he thinks it would be, quote, “foolish” to walk away from that. But at the end of the day, Beerman says it is a community decision.

“Personally I think we can do this in a fun way," he said. "It could bolster us just like the athletes training for the games. We could train up as a community and use it to fix a lot of our transportation and housing infrastructure. But it’s going to be a difficult choice because there are definitely detriments as well."

In December, 2018, the United States Olympic Committee picked Utah over Denver as the U.S. choice for a future Winter Games. But they have not said if they want to bid for the 2030 or 2034 games. The 2022 Winter Games are scheduled to be in Beijing next February.