Denver Quietly Considering Winter Olympic Games Bid

A 165-member contingent of Denver business and government leaders, including the governor of Colorado and the mayor of Denver, is visiting Vancouver this week as part of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce’s annual Leadership Exchange program which takes participants to different cities each year to discuss business and policy issues.

The Denver Post reports the visit this year will help organizers of a prospective Denver Winter Games bid a chance to learn about what it would take to bring the Winter Games to Denver.

A future Denver Olympic bid is getting a boost from SportAccord, a gathering of international sporting officials that are holding its annual meeting in Denver in March.

The newspaper reports local backers of an Olympic bid want to be prepared should the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) select Denver as its Winter Games nominee.

The next Winter Olympic Games in 2018 is to be selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2011.

According to the Denver Post supporters of a bid have been low key because cities are discouraged from actively pursuing a bid until they get support from national governing bodies such as the USOC. Also, backers of a Denver bid don’t want to be too vocal so as not to hamper Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

Rob Cohen, Denver’s chief Olympics backer and executive chairman of the Metro Denver Sports Commission, said the trip to Vancouver “will help us gauge whether it’s a good thing or bad thing for the community. These things can be hard to measure”. He added that landing the Olympics would cement Colorado’s status as a centre of world-class athletics.

Denver is a finalist for the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four as well as several other sports championships. The city has won 24 of the 50 major sporting events it has bid on in this decade, which Cohen said, is “a staggering batting average”.

SportAccord is being held in Denver next March and will feature 1,500 influential leaders in international sports. It’s the first time the event is taking place in North America. Cohen said every city that has hosted SportAccord has also hosted an Olympics or later went on to host one.

In 1972 Colorado voters vetoed hosting the 1976 Winter Games because of financial and environmental concerns. But Cohen said, “we won’t run from 1976 – it’s part of our history – but we’re different now than we were in ’76 and the Olympic movement is much different now”.

Should Denver host the Winter Games they would take place along the Front Range and in the mountains. The venues needed be built include ski jumping, speed skating, luge and Nordic skiing.

John Furlong, chief executive of Vancouver 2010, said he will tell Denver officials this week that issues of logistics and financing should not take a back seat to broader aspects.

He said, “you want the Olympics to contribute to the city, but where it really contributes is to the human capital and as a nation builder. It has to be an event for everybody. You need to built unity around that vision and really make it shine out”.