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Features Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 16:04 GMT
Counting the Olympic cost
The Olympic flame burns brightly
What happens when the flame goes out in Utah?
The BBC's James Cove considers to what extent Salt Lake City will really benefit financially from hosting the Games

By the time the closing ceremony ends millions of dollars will have been spent on the Winter Olympics.

But some people are already asking if all the money spent is worth it and whether Utah could actually suffer because of its hosting of the tournament.

The Games bring untold publicity to a host resort but it is questionable whether that lasts.

In an unscientific survey on the slopes of Park City, not one skier out of the 20 I asked could remember where either of the last two Winter Olympic Games were held.

Local economy

Sean Stintson from the visitors bureau of Park City, one of the Olympic venues, questions whether the Games will directly benefit the people of the town.

We are expecting less people here than we would get in a non-Olympic year

Tony Chesrow, Heber businessman

"Many shopkeepers worry that sponsors are taking care of everything and visitors will simply take corporate hospitality and not spend cash in the local economy."

This view is echoed in the town of Heber, which is hosting all the Nordic events.

Tony Chesrow, who runs Heber Mountain Sports on Main Street believes the Games actually drive people away.

"We are expecting less people here than we would get in a non-Olympic year as they'll be put off by the expected crowds and extra hassle," he said.

In fact only 4% of the ski areas will be closed because of Olympic competition, but many skiers believe the slopes will be out of bounds leaving them nowhere to ski.

Skiers put off

Fred Rollins, the marketing Director of Snowbird adds: "People will actually stay away because of these fears - they are wrong but they feel it nevertheless."

In 1976 Colarado turned down the Games as it felt it would not bring the financial benefits it initially expected.

We fought hard to get the event... But I don't think it brought in extra skiers in the following years

Martine Floquet, Tignes tourism office

It was the first time a host city has rejected the Winter Olympics.

"It is questionable whether the Olympics bring any real financial benefit", says Arnie Wilson the skiing correspondent of The Financial Times.

"Colarado will be watching closely to see what happens in Utah."

No difference

Albertville in France hosted the Winter Olympics in 1992 and the resort of Tignes held the freestyle events.

"We fought hard to get an event", says Martine Floquet from the tourist office in Tignes.

"But I really don't think it made much difference to us and I don't think it brought in extras skiers and boarders in the following years."

It seems then that the Winter Olympics do not bring all the benefits first hoped for. Just ask Nagano and Lillehammer, the venues for the last two games.

Links to more Features stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more Features stories

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