Olympics exploratory committee recommends Colorado pursue hosting Winter Games

DENVER – The committee tasked with exploring the possibility of Colorado hosting the Winter Olympics is recommending the city and state go forward with a bid.

The recommendation isn't for any particular year but rather any future Winter Games should the United States Olympic Committee call for bids from U.S. cities. The USOC has said in the past that it's focused on a potential U.S. bid in 2030 or beyond.

The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Exploratory Committee is recommending a new approach to the Olympics that would not use any public or taxpayer funding. The recommendation also states that a bid should only go forward if it's approved by a referendum of Colorado voters.

Both Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have accepted the recommendation, the committee said.

“By combining the International Olympic Committee’s new approach to hosting the Games with the recommendations to relieve the financial burden on taxpayers and place the ultimate decision-making with Colorado residents, I feel we have the right approach to host the Games the Colorado way,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “I am grateful for the Exploratory Committee’s guidance for moving forward as a community. Through their engagement with residents, they not only determined what the support was for hosting a future Winter Games, but also how these events could serve as a catalyst to help solve challenging issues statewide, including growing traffic congestion and the housing crisis.”

Denver actually was awarded the 1976 Winter Games but after a series of blunderous plans and unrealistic cost expectations the tide of public opinion shifted against Denver hosting and Denver actually gave the Olympics back. It ended up being held in Innsbrook, Austria.

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Some of the issues that organizers of the '76 Denver Games faced are the same issues the current committee is facing: traffic, environmental concerns and housing.

The group NOlympics, which has been opposed to a Denver bid, issued the following statement in response:

This is not at all a surprise. Making the recommendation to go forward was a forgone conclusion with a committee that was stacked with longtime boosters and business interests that stand to directly benefit from a massive vanity project like that. The provision for a possible public vote is a move to buy time for a bid that is spiraling with less than 30% support in every public poll.  Any such vote wasn’t even a consideration prior to Governor Lamm and other skeptics focused on it as an essential step.  In fact, the Denver bid is just following Boston’s script when organizers similarly got backed into a corner with lack of public support and made a similar non specific (for timing or substance) pledge to include a referendum. It didn’t work there and we’re still going forward with a Denver referendum to cut off any opportunity to use of public funds when many other areas are suffering. At the end of the day, it’s billions of dollars for a three week event that is a proven a drain on communities— at a time when the same group of establishment politicians and business interests have have continued to overlook community priorities for housing, environment, transit, and overall quality of life for the people that live here.

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