Diplomatic boycott doesn’t change Salt Lake City’s bid for future winter games

Dec 6, 2021, 6:35 PM
(The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.  Photo: Paul Nelson, December 6, 2021)...
(The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns. Photo: Paul Nelson, December 6, 2021)
(The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns. Photo: Paul Nelson, December 6, 2021)

SALT LAKE CITY – America’s athletes will still be able to represent their country at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, despite the diplomatic boycott set by the Biden administration.  The team trying to win another Winter Olympics for the Beehive State says the boycott won’t slow them down.

Diplomatic boycott meant to send a message

The diplomatic boycott was designed to send a message from the Biden administration to government leaders in China against alleged cases of human rights violations in Xinjiang, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.  Utah Senator Mitt Romney has been calling for this kind of boycott for several months, and tweeted his support Monday. 

In one post, he tweeted, “America must not lend its credibility to the Chinese Communist Party, which represses ethnic and religious minorities – committing genocide against its Uyghur citizens.”

Business as usual for Salt Lake City committee

While this boycott is making international news, members of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games say it doesn’t change anything for them.  They had an online meeting with officials from the International Olympic Committee. The topic of the boycott was never brought up.

Committee CEO Fraser Bullock said, “There is a lot of work to be done.  We communicated that work, or some of the high-level elements of that work, today.”

Bullock says they still intend to send a small group of people to observe the Beijing games. So, they can learn as much about hosting the event as possible.

He said, “We’re focused on our games, and talking with people who are preparing in China, learning from them and interacting with colleagues in Olympic movement is always valuable.”

Winning an Olympic bid has changed 

According to Bullock, winning an Olympic bid is completely different than what it was when Salt Lake City was awarded the 2002 games.  Back then, several different cities competed for an already scheduled Olympiad. As a result, the cities had to prove they would be ready to host the event by the year it was to happen.  The winners were announced seven years before the opening ceremony was to be held.

Bullock says cities no longer compete for a specific year.

“There is no seven-year rule.  It is flexible.  For example, Brisbane was awarded the 2032 games earlier this year,” he said.

Now, cities are encouraged to speak directly with the IOC, and apply to host the games.  Bullock says IOC officials will speak directly with representatives from these cities. And they will plot out what work needs to be done to host the games.  He says the IOC will then determine which year’s games could be awarded to that city.

He said, “Our sole focus is on preparing our bid for a future games, whether that’s ’30 or ’34.”

During a press conference on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhoa Lijian said, “The U.S. should stop politicizing sports and hyping up the ‘diplomatic boycott’ so as not to affect China-U.S. dialogue and cooperation in important areas.”

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