Nevada gets the cold shoulder

Olympic bids are more about money than the spirit of competition


The speedboat, bottom left, carrying the Olympic Flame, heads to Tower Bridge during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Richard N. Velotta

Richard N. Velotta

When the curtain rose on the Olympic Games over the weekend, millions of people saw Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the London Eye and other British tourism icons.

It’s the kind of publicity you can’t buy. The images broadcast on televisions worldwide reminded people that London would be a pretty cool place to visit.

That’s exactly the kind of publicity Nevada hoped to get in 2022. Northern Nevada was on a short list of places angling to host the Winter Olympics that year.

The selection process for host cities is two-tiered. First, American venues compete with one another to win over the U.S. Olympic Committee. Once a U.S. venue is selected, the competition moves to the global stage, and the International Olympic Committee evaluates sites from around the world. The winning bid is determined in a series of elimination votes.

A Nevada-California bid has a lot going for it. Heavenly Ski Resort in Nevada has been pegged for alpine ski events. Squaw Valley in California has the experience of hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics and could host other skiing events. Arenas in Sacramento and San Jose could handle hockey and figure skating, while a refurbished Mackay Stadium at UNR has been identified for hosting opening and closing ceremonies.

The effort wouldn’t be without challenge. Three other cities have expressed interest.

Denver, one of the bidders, is the gateway to some of the world’s best ski resorts. And a Colorado bid would be strong — the U.S. Olympic Committee is headquartered in Colorado Springs.

Salt Lake City also is preparing a bid. It hosted the 2002 games, the last time the Olympics were held in America.

Bozeman, Mont., wants in, too. But most insiders believe the area’s lack of transportation infrastructure makes it a long-shot.

Amidst the preparations, the U.S. Olympic Committee made a stunning announcement: The United States isn’t going to bid for the 2022 games. Committee executives say they’re waiting instead for the 2024 Summer Olympics, the 2026 Winter Olympics or both.

What? Whatever happened to the spirit of competition, the kind shown by Olympic athletes? Shouldn’t the United States field bids for every competition?

The big worry is that if the United States won the 2022 games, it would have no chance of hosting the more financially lucrative summer games two years later. So the strategy seems to be, “Go for the big bucks in 2024, and if that fails, there’s always 2026.”

The U.S. Olympic Committee seems to be more concerned with sponsorship money than the spirit of competition. As a result, once again, Nevada will be left out in the cold.

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  1. Let's face it, today's Olympics are still about competition. It has simply changed it's focus.

    It is more a corporate investment in prestige and profit competition.

    This is displayed by the large numbers of empty corporate and foreign dignitary seats, while citizens of the world are clamoring for tickets, and the ban on small businesses from capitalizing on Olympic memorabilia and symbols.

    The athletes & games are simply the tools used to gain what the corporate sponsors want most.

    Even at that, the Bejing Olympics cost around $44 billion, and the London Olympics will cost about $15 billion. Bargin deal!