SALT LAKE CITY — The Tokyo Olympics provided lots of winners and losers and stunning moments, but one thing didn’t walk away with any medals: the pandemic.
Yes, it suspended the Games for a year. Instead athletes, spectators, and world citizens won.
Fraser Bullock, former COO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee of the 2002 Winter Olympics, joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic to discuss the just-closed Tokyo Games and the upcoming Winter Games in China.
“[Japan] did a fabulous job in the most difficult Olympics ever,” Bullock said.
Inspiration is golden at Tokyo Olympics
Bullock said as always he was inspired by the athletes reaching for and finding their best performances under unpredictable circumstances.
MyKayla Skinner was ready to call it a career in gymnastics and board a plane back to Arizona when teammate Simone Biles withdrew from the event finals and asked Skinner to replace her.
She did and won a silver medal in the vault competition.
“Nobody could have forecast that. So many other stories are like that, and they’re inspiring to us, never give up,” Bullock said. “So that for me is always takeaway number one from any Olympics is the inspiring story of the athletes.”
Next stop: Beijing 2022
Japan now passes the Olympic torch to China.
Beijing, the capital of China, will host the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, from Feb. 4-20.
But in May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a U.S. diplomatic boycott of the Games, criticizing China for human rights abuses, especially the fate of Muslim minorities.
“We’re hopeful that there is no athlete boycott; the athletes need the opportunity to participate,” Bullock said.
Bullock called the Olympic Games are a time to focus on athletes and the human spirit they embody — not politics. He added Salt Lake’s 2002 Winter Games had background concerns over security following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 on New York City and Washington, D.C.
“But our focus always was the athletes, the field of play, allowing them to compete at their very, very best,” Bullock said.
Future Olympic Games in Utah?
Bullock added that not only have the state’s 2002 Olympic venues been maintained but expanded. He said the conversation about returning the Games to Utah has begun.
“We are in that dialogue process with the IOC [International Olympic Committee]. We let them know we were interested in hosting future Games either in 2030 or 2034,” Bullock said.
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