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Countries Pull Strings to Get Alcohol to Olympics in Utah

January 23, 2002|Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Some foreign Olympic entourages have used diplomatic channels to avoid Utah's strict, costly liquor regulations.

When Italian Olympic officials tried to arrange for the import of 360 cases of wine for next month's Winter Olympics, state officials said that only Utah's Alcoholic Beverage Control Department can import any booze with an alcohol content greater than 3.2% alcohol.

Instead of paying the 78.6% markup the state charges for special liquor orders, the organizing committee for the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, enlisted Italy's foreign consulate in San Francisco. The consulate agreed to sponsor a private hospitality suite in the same office tower used by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

Italy is not alone, Earl Dorius, licensing attorney for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Department, said Tuesday.

Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland also are using diplomatic privileges to import alcohol, he said.

Foreign consulates, however, must pay the $1 per bottle the ABC charges for a no-resale stamp.

Italy will pay the fee on 4,376 bottles of wine, Dorius said.

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