Winter Olympics 2022: Denver committee recommends bid, dismisses 1976 rejection

Categories: Sports

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Should Denver make a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics? Yesterday, a panel of local experts and planners tasked with exploring the possibility yesterday gave state and city officials an overwhelming "yes" recommendation. And fortunately, a majority of folks across the state don't know about 1976. Do you?

If not, let's review Denver's strange and complex history with the Olympics -- dating back to the '70s.

Denver successfully made a bid to host the 1976 Olympics, after which voters decided they did not want it.

That's right, Denver is the only city that ever earned the prestigious honor to host the Olympics and then rejected the offer. It's been called the "most insulting snub in Olympic history."

In 1972, a range of concerns around costs, environmental impacts, over-development and other anxieties led voters to reject the public funding needed to host the Olympics -- more than two years after the International Olympic Committee had awarded the 1976 Winter Games to Denver (at the cost of $5 million).

This history logically came up when the Denver Olympic Exploratory Committee, featuring 22 local leaders and experts, officially voted to recommend to the mayor of Denver and the governor of Colorado that they pursue a bid for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

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Anne Warhover.
When reporters asked Anne Warhover, co-chair of the committee, about this, she said the group's research had found that a majority of residents across the state aren't aware of Denver's strange history with the Olympics.

"Here's something really interesting...less than half, or 44 percent of voters, had ever heard about [1976] in the first place," said Warhover, who's also the CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation.

She was speaking about a poll of 600 registered voters across the state, representing a wide range of demographics

"So if you think about 1976...if you were zero in 1976, you know, you'd have to be in your mid-thirties. You wouldn't remember. So a lot of time has passed," she said. "It's not an issue. It's so old and so much in the past."

In addition, the poll found that 74 percent of respondents supported a Denver Olympic bid.

"Try polling on any issue in the state right now and see if you can get close to that number," she said.

Chimed in Sue Baldwin, interim president of Metro Denver Sports Commission, "Right now, there's only one IOC [International Olympic Committee] member who was an IOC member when they voted on it in 1972 [for the 1976 game]. So not only is the state's generation beyond it, but the IOC is sort of beyond it as well."

Page down to read more about the exploratory committee's findings and comments from Mayor Michael Hancock about a potential bid.

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