Olympics Exploratory Committee recommends Denver for Winter Games

DENVER -- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have accepted a recommendation from the Winter Games Exploratory Committee to pursue hosting a future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The decision comes after the committee spoke with more than 30,000 Coloradans about potentially hosting the Games, a statement released Friday morning said.

The committee said that based on the feedback it received, it will take a new approach to creating a potential bid. It said the new model would allow Denver and Colorado to host the Games without and direct funding from taxpayers. It also said it would allow residents to decide whether to host the games through a statewide vote in 2020 or later.

"The Winter Games would be a statewide event, with major competition venues outside of Denver and athletes and spectators from all over the state participating; therefore, a statewide referendum would empower the voters of Colorado to decide," the statement said.

The committee said Denver and Colorado's mountain communities are "more than capable" of hosting the Olympics. Moreover, the committee said it recognizes Coloradans' concerns regarding challenges like affordable housing, transportation and sustainability.

"While an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games cannot solve such shared priorities for the city and state, the Games could be a catalyst to speed up solutions that may be planned or under consideration," the statement said, referring to cities like Vancouver and Salt Lake City, which the committee said benefited from road improvements made for the Winter Games.

"The ability to showcase Colorado to audiences worldwide would have significant, long-term economic benefits to Denver and Colorado," the statement said.

The Winter Games Exploratory Committee was formed in December 2017 to determine whether Denver should submit a bid. It is made up of a variety of civic and community leaders. The committee said new guidance from the International Olympic Committee is designed to allow cities to host the Games with less of a financial burden.

If Denver hosts the Games, it is still unclear when they would happen.

"The [United States Olympic Committee] has publicly stated it is focused on pursuing a 2030 bid or beyond," the statement said. If the USOC decides to submit a bid for the games, it can only submit one American city.

Denver was slated to host the Olympic Games in 1976. However, voters decided not to host the Games and the city relinquished its bid. Innsbruck, Austria ended up hosting the Games that year.

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