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Summit County submits letter of support to International Olympic Committee

Utah Olympic Park in Park City
Utah Olympic Park in Park City

The Summit County Council approved a letter expressing the council’s support for bringing the Winter Olympic Games back to Utah in 2030 or 2034.

The council held a special meeting Monday, during which members unanimously approved a letter of support to send to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

It expresses the county’s desire for a safe and healthy Games for those involved and the protection of human rights, including non-discrimination.

County Manager Shayne Scott said a lot of the language gets included in these kinds of letters because the Games are international. Sometimes they are held in places where human rights are consistently violated.

“Still an important designation, but it's often not the United States that needs to worry about these kinds of things,” Scott said.

The Park City Council authorized Mayor Nann Worel to send a similar letter to the IOC in April. Park City called it an “Olympic Guarantee”—it’s something municipalities commonly do to strengthen an Olympic bid.

The Summit County Council framed its letter as one of support rather than guarantee, given the gravity of threats that the IOC wants assurance will be handled, like terrorism and human rights violations.

Council Chair Roger Armstrong said Summit County should be careful about the letter’s wording for liability reasons, even though it’s clearly the county’s intention to help keep the Games safe.

“If there's a violation of human rights, our law enforcement county attorney's office is going to be on that regardless of an Olympics or not,” Council Vice Chair Malena Stevens said.

The letter also gets into the county’s intention to provide requisite services for the Games, like transit infrastructure, but with two caveats.

Summit County wants the “provision of adequate state resources” for Bus Rapid Transit on state Route 224 and anticipates the Utah Department of Transportation will rebuild Kimball Junction in advance of the Games to help mitigate traffic.

“Part of that rises from some of the legislation that is targeting our transit funding and the ability to operate our bus service,” Armstrong said.

The specific legislation that could be an issue is Senate Bill 84. The new bill may prevent High Valley Transit from getting $30 million in state funds to improve state Route 224 bus service.

The funding’s uncertain position was another reason the letter was framed in terms of support, rather than guarantees.

The county council unanimously approved the letter which Armstrong will now sign and send to the IOC.

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