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Denver talks about hosting 2018 Winter Olympics

Brief by Allen Best

Sports – November 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

A delegation of 165 people from Colorado — including Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper — visited Vancouver, B.C., recently to talk about renewable energy and other topics, but especially the Olympics.

Vancouver and Whistler are hosting the 2010 Olympics, and it will be at Sochi, Russia, in 2014. Some in Denver, however, have been talking about a bid for 2018.

John Furlong, chief executive of the Vancouver Olympics Organizing Committee, said he would tell Coloradans that issues of logistics and financing should not take a back seat in Olympic planning.

“You want the Olympics to contribute to the city, but where it really contributes is to the human capital and as a nation builder,” Furlong told The Denver Post. “It has to be an event for everybody. You need to build unity around that vision and really make it shine out.”

Denver had won the right to host the 1976 Olympics, but Colorado voters in 1972 refused to continue subsidies, because of both the rapid development then occurring and the fiscal mismanagement of the Olympic organizing committee.

“We won’t run from 1976 — it’s part of our history — but we’re much different now than we were in ’76, and the Olympic movement is much different now,” said Rob Cohen, executive chairman of the Metro Denver Sports Commission.

Former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm once led the fight against the Olympics, but says he is keeping an open mind about a new bid.

The Vancouver committee projects a budget of $1.6 billion, not counting such infrastructure improvements as the $600 million expansion of the Sea to Sky Highway that links Vancouver with Whistler.

Cohen told the newspaper he hopes the Olympics, if they come to Colorado, might stimulate public financing for improvements of Interstate 70. However, he doesn’t believe that absence of improvements on the congested highway between Denver and mountain resorts will preclude the Olympics.