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In a Pageant of Pomp, Pride and Security, Salt Lake Games Open

Olympics: Fighter jets fly above the stadium and checkpoints are time-consuming. But complaints are few.

February 09, 2002|ALAN ABRAHAMSON and HELENE ELLIOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

In Sydney, Australia, 17 months ago, the time-zone problem again was evident. Plus, NBC, which holds the exclusive rights to broadcast the Games in the United States from 2000 through 2008, chose to show virtually the entire Summer Olympics on tape delay.

Meantime, in late 1998, in the months between the Nagano and Sydney Olympics, the bid scandal erupted here in Salt Lake City.

The scandal centered on revelations that bidders had wooed IOC members or their relatives with more than $1 million in cash, gifts and other inducements.

Ten IOC members were expelled or resigned. The IOC in late 1999 passed a 50-point reform plan that included a ban on visits to cities bidding for the Games.

The two leaders of the bid, Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, were indicted in July 2000 on federal fraud and other charges. A U.S. district judge dismissed the case in November, but only days ago prosecutors filed an appeal--thereby assuring that the scandal would stay in the spotlight for the duration of these Games and beyond.

As for security, a thorough review was undertaken after Sept. 11. The $310 million devoted to security is far and away a record for a U.S. Games.

By comparison, the federal government's share of security funding for the Winter Games at Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1980 was $23 million, according to the General Accounting Office. Salt Lake City's share is more than 10 times that.

Bill and Pam Skinner, attending the opening ceremony from nearby Park City, said they weren't worried.

"There are a lot of people that live here that are staying away because they are afraid," Bill Skinner said. "We don't want to do that. That means [the terrorists] win."

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Times staff writers Julie Cart and Tom Gorman in Salt Lake City, Mitchell Landsberg in Los Angeles and John J. Goldman in New York contributed to this report.

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