‘We’re ready’: 2002 Olympic cauldron lit to celebrate future Games
Olympians, government officials, and the public gathered outside Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday evening to celebrate Utah’s 2034 Winter Games bid moving forward.
While a 2034 Olympics in Utah isn’t official yet, the vibe Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah was that the Games are coming back.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) named Salt Lake City the “preferred host” for the 2034 Winter Games Wednesday. Utah’s Olympic bid committee will now move into the “targeted dialogue” phase with the IOC, with a final decision on the 2034 Games expected next summer.
Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, expressed confidence in Utah’s chances.
“At the end of July, the IOC will award these Games to Salt Lake City… and four weeks later, Paris will hand the flag to Los Angeles, who will then be the next host for the Summer Games,” Hirshland said. “It will kick off a decade of sport in this country that has never been seen before, ever.”
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of Utah’s Olympic bid committee, said an IOC election to decide the future Games is scheduled for July 23 or 24. He said they plan to nudge the IOC to vote on the 24th, Pioneer Day in Utah.
“Our message is that we’re ready,” Bullock said. “Everything is in place to deliver exceptional games, together. While I can still visualize the wonderful imagery from 2002, and the magic those Games created, I have another dream. I hope to be able to work with our magnificent team, our communities, and our wonderful partners at the IOC and USOPC to impact the world for good. Our dream is that we can bring unity, hope and inspiration to a world in need of them.”
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox also emphasized a message of unity.
“The world needs us more than ever before,” Cox said. “There’s so much division and hate in the world. The Olympic Games, the Olympic spirit, it’s about bringing people together. It’s what we do best in Utah and we can’t wait to unify the world right here in Salt Lake City in 2034.”
Emily Campbell, 17, trains daily at Soldier Hollow in Wasatch County. Last year she competed in biathlon at the Youth World Championships in Kazakhstan. She hopes the Olympics are in her future.
“That would be such a cool opportunity to get to do it on home soil,” Campbell said. “I train at Soho every day and now training there I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, literally the Olympics have been here, they could be here again, like I could actually be at them.’ That would be really cool.”
Sydney Ervin, 11, is on the U12 Park City Ski & Snowboard alpine racing team. If the Olympics do return to Utah, she hopes to share the state’s beauty with the world.
“Because it’s such a pretty place but it’s also kinda overlooked compared to Vail and stuff,” Ervin said. “It’d be really cool for everyone worldwide to come in and have the Olympics here on the same hills that we train on.”
Three-time Olympian Nick Goepper had a message to Utahns who don’t want the Games to return.
“Find some way to make money off of it,” Goepper said. “If it’s going to happen, then at least use it to your advantage, and start a food truck or rental property or something.”
Friday evening’s celebration concluded with a lighting of the 2002 Winter Olympic cauldron.